Garrett Graff’s Washington Post op-ed published last December raises some very interesting issues regarding our presidential candidates and their technological literacy. Garrett states that, “our economic future and security require that we have a higher standard for our leaders.” And he goes on to pose the question, “Why is it that we blithely allow our leaders to be ignorant of the force that, probably more than any other, will drive and define the nation’s economic success and reshape its society over the next 20 years?”
In addition to many other Bush-isms, President Bush has referred to google as “the google” and the internet as the “internets” and thus dubbed (among other things) “Googler-in-Chief” by The Wall Street Journal. Did you miss it? Don’t worry, here’s a quick CNN clip that has it all:
In his op-ed piece, Garrett also mentions Senator Ted Steven’s description of the Internet as a “series of tubes” and Mitt Romney’s inability to distinguish the capabilities of YouTube from MySpace during a campaign trail question in early 2007. Although we all get a good laugh out of this stuff, I have to agree with Garrett when he says that “technology shouldn’t be a laughing matter.”
It is my hope, too, that the 2008 presidential elections will reshape our standards of technological literacy for our leader. In a Republican presidential debate in 2007, John McCain admitted his need to rely on the Vice President for up to date knowledge of our new technology. The full transcript is available here, but this is what he said:
McCain: Look, I am going to give you some straight talk. This president came to office in a time of peace, and then we found ourselves in 2001.
And he did not have as much national security experience as I do. So he had to rely more on the vice president of the United States, and that’s obvious. I wouldn’t have to do that. I might have to rely on a vice president that I select on some other issues. He may have more expertise in telecommunications, on information technology, which is the future of this nation’s economy. He may have more expertise in a lot of areas.
Obama has publically stated that he intends to make technology literacy a priority in public schools and to use the “Internet as a tool to increase government accountability” according to alternet.org.
Only time will tell…