I've been following the drama about whether nearly-president-now Barack Obama will be allowed to keep his Blackberry. With disgust.
I'm disgusted because here, for once, is a president who doesn't want to be kept in a bubble - and our executive system is giving him such flack about it!
I don't know about anybody else, but I want the Chief Executive of my country to have as much access to information technology as possible. I think he should not only have a Blackberry, but a smartphone and a laptop 24/7. I think he should have unfettered access to the Internet in whatever way he wants. I think he should be able to browse Technoratti over his morning coffee so he can find out what people think of him today, without having to wait for a Gallup poll result.
I think, should there be a terrorist attack at 2AM, he should be able to reach to his nightstand and Google and Wiki the facts immediately. Preferably from lynx running in a console so he saves those crucial seconds. (dream, dream)
That's the common rights afforded us regular citizens. That's the accepted standard for most workplaces. For pity's sake, we want him to be the head of one of the most powerful nations on the planet, and we have to have him filter everything he knows about the world through his staff? I've naively thought in the past that any member of government did the same things that I do when I want to research something. Yet we keep finding out that our government is the most clueless about technology.
That's why we have Senators who call the Internet a series of tubes, why we have candidates who call it "the Google", why we have legislation and patent laws hampering technology that sound like they were written in the Dark Ages, why we have had presidents who were absolutely floored when they visited a supermarket and discovered check-stand scanners.
The hubbub is apparently over the security issue; a message to or from the President could get intercepted and used for damage. Sure, but... This is the country that at least participated in the creation of ARPANET, the country where companies like IBM and research facilities like Bell Labs formed, the country that gave the world MIT, and we're stumped trying to secure one Blackberry?
You know what Obama should be telling his staff? "Quit whining and do your job! There's system admins on Dice.com who are just begging to replace you."
Update: Happy ending: They solved the problem just like I said they would/should. Which is great, because now my president has 5UP3R-1337 Interwebs skillz!
Footnote: To put a fine point on the statement "Yet we keep finding out that our government is the most clueless about technology.", here's the story of how the Obama staff was confronted by the technological Dark Ages of the White House. As Obama spokesman Bill Burton said of the accommodations: "It is kind of like going from an Xbox to an Atari." - yeah, you tell 'em!