At a recent commencement speech US President Barack Obama seemed to go off on the iPad, iPod, Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation.
After admitting he didn’t know how any worked he went on a short rant about how they were unnecessarily distracting and should be avoided. His thesis was based on the amount of bad information that was available on the web and how distracting it could be with the implication being that folks who used these devices were being manipulated.
Of course if he had used the Xbox or PlayStation 3 he likely would have discovered they aren’t really used for information retrieval, and most of the iPods just play audio files which hardly create an information overload even if you listen to lots of books and podcasts using them.
The Irony of Misinformation
The Irony here was that Obama was evidently using inaccurate information himself and ended up sounding like a parent that doesn’t want to buy one or both of his kids one of these devices and was stretching for a good argument that he could use to justify his no decision.
Interestingly he didn’t call out either Windows or Apple based PCs given most of the folks he was speaking to were likely getting this bad information off of their PC. But you can’t tell people to not use PCs because they likely wouldn’t be able to do their jobs without them.
The second Irony is that much like he is often blamed for problems created by the prior administration or screwy decisions out of the US Congress and outside his control he was blaming the iPad, iPod, Xbox and PlayStation falsely. They don’t create the bad information he was talking about, they just display it.
Obama’s Core Point
Obama’s core point appeared to be that we were becoming overwhelmed with inaccurate and false information and it was causing us to make bad political decisions. There is likely a lot of truth in this but avoiding reading any of this information on an iPad or anything else likely won’t help this problem. And a service that vetted information with regard to truth, particularly if provided by the government, would have clear free speech issues. I’m figuring it would pretty much block Fox TV.
However, better managing your time so you focused more on things that advanced your education and career rather than excessively game playing, living in social media, or being entertained by fake news would likely be good advice and seems to be mostly what he had intended to say before his speechwriter made him look like an ignorant boob.
I imagine Steve Jobs folks are, as we speak, trying to hook President Obama and Jobs up so that Steve could explain nicely why he, and every Mac employee and fan, is now voting for Sarah Palin for President during Obama’s mid-term election. As well as pointing out Obama’s mistake.
It fascinates me that in a talk that clearly took exception to false information and connected that information to bad political decisions through consumer electronics Obama provided false information that came in the old fashioned way, by someone not doing their homework. And a lot of folks seemed to conclude he didn’t like the iPad, which likely isn’t really true either.
In the end there is likely one clear take away from this talk. If you don’t do thorough homework them you are likely to make embarrassing mistakes whether or not you use any specific technology. An iPad or PC may not make you smart but it won’t make you stupid either and, in the end, it is all about the quality of work you do and how gullible and ignorant you are.
The US president showcased just what could happen if you don’t do your homework and it would be wise if we learned from his bad example and not from our own embarrassing experience. Obama’s mistake overshadowed an otherwise interesting talk.
One final thought, given Obama’s comments are likely to adversely impact iPad and iPod sales, wouldn’t it be fun to be the fly on the wall when Steve Jobs finally gets Obama on the phone? Now that would be a conversation worth listening to.