Wednesday, July 16, 2008

John McCain is Aware of the Internet

That was the line from campaign staffer Mark Soohoo at a June panel, “Personal Democracy Forum”. Aides like Soohoo have the unenviable job of touting McCain’s ability to stay relevant as technology progresses at a break neck pace.

Earlier this summer, McCain admitted to not being able to use a computer at all, citing his wife as the conduit between himself the newfangled typing machine. [1:19]

This is the latest in a series of jaw dropping remarks made by some of the most powerful men in America.

The Washington Post’s report from earlier this week on the exchange between lawmakers and executives from Yahoo! and Google would have been funny if the implications for online privacy so weren't so serious:

At the end of a two-hour Senate committee hearing yesterday on Internet advertising and privacy, Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.), who led the discussion, said the affair had chiefly served to emphasize "how little we do understand."

Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), remarked wryly that because of all the talk about "cookies" and other Web terms, he was going to have to "update my dictionary."

And Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) asked a question about Internet connections so muddled that apparently no one understood.

"I think I'm not entirely sure of what you are suggesting, senator," the witness answered.

"Nor am I," he said.

It’s 2008, how can we expect a candidate who doesn't use email to understand the basis of net neutrality, or online privacy?

How about the safety of children online. Passing COPPA is a great first step but these issues still aren’t going away. Case in point: watch the first five minutes of MSNBC’s To Catch a Predator (and only the first five minutes or your head will explode). Where do all of those criminal conversations first take place?

How can we asses a candidate’s ability to lead us well into the 21st century without asking these questions? If elected will McCain's team haul in a complex network of fax machines into the White House?

I have more on this political luddite riff but I've run out of steam. More to come....

1 comment:

Ari Herzog said...

Your lack of steam must have virtually connected to my tank of it, as our latest blog posts are very similar.

Intriguing quotes from others on Capitol Hill. Which begs the question that I can't find anywhere else: How many governors and Fortune 500 chief executives lack tech skills?