Obama’s commencement speech
President Obama’s remarks at Hampton University’s commencement ceremony have raised eyebrows across traditional and new media outlets and social networks as he points to modern technologies and the accelerating pace of information exchange.
The President said to the graduating class of 2010, “you’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank that high on the truth meter. And with iPods and iPads; and Xboxes and PlayStations — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.”
While some agree with Obama that the rising pace of information shared online is exacerbated by mobile technologies like the iPad, technology bloggers are speaking negatively of the statements. The consensus in the technology industry is summarized well by Austin American Statesman tech culture journalist, Omar Gallaga, “I’d be a little more inclined to go along with the message if this wasn’t the president who couldn’t let go of his beloved BlackBerry when he went into office. So it’s not a distraction if you’re the president? iPods and iPads and PlayStations are mere distractions, but a RIM smartphone can help you run the country and empower you?”
What I personally hear the President saying is that there is a lot of misinformation, especially online and it is perpetrated and accelerated by technologies such as the iPad. Although I understand the sentiment of not being able to control the message in this era of rapidly moving information sharing, it seems inappropriate of a President to telegraph such a feeling.
In the real estate industry, agents are on the forefront of using technologies in their practices and if on one hand politicians are addicted to their Blackberries, have a presence on every social network known to man, yet point to these same technologies as a “diversion,” there is a breakdown in understanding exactly what is happening with technology and communication. Business owners and practitioners increasingly rely on the internet and supporting technologies to bolster their business and tech literacy has become quite important and will continue to do so.
As Obama wags his finger at the spread of misinformation, he administers his own brand of misinformation at Hampton University’s commencement speech. It is disappointing that the leader of the free world is calling information “entertainment.” He is undermining the entire tech sector and critical innovation based on his own lack of understanding of what it is he criticizes.
Watch the commencement speech:
We invite you to see the entire commencement speech by watching below or by reading the transcript here.
CC Licensed image courtesy of jurvetson via Flickr.com.