Ticket Replay: Obama plays the technology dunce card again
During the holiday season, as in years past, The Ticket is republishing some of our favorite items from the previous political year. This story was originally published on May 11, 2010:
Is President Obama really a technology-challenged dunce, or does he just play one on stage?
In his commencement speech at Hampton University on Sunday, Obama again fell back on his tried-and-true gag about not being able to operate popular gadgets before making his broader point.
"With iPods and iPads; 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," he told a class of more than 1,000 graduates. "All of this is not only putting new pressures on you. It is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy."
That line about not being able to "know how to work" an iPad or Xbox succeeded in drawing some laughs. But it worked against Obama when the reactions from technology enthusiasts online began pouring in.
Obama "drinks from the 'information overload' Kool-Aid," claimed one blog headline. Having not actually spent time trying to optimize his workflow with a device like the iPad, the president appears to have little basis from which to make such a contentious claim.
So if Obama doesn't know how to use Apple's portable music player -- a product hailed for its ease-of-use, even for a Harvard Law graduate -- was the preelection Rolling Stone magazine article about what's on his iPod a farce?
Come to think of it, his picks did seem a little too varied, uncontroversial and universally respectable to be the real deal. Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, Sheryl Crow and Ludacris? Give me a break.
Sunday's backlash wasn't unlike the time in November when Obama disappointed his fans online when he told a roomful of Chinese youths, "I have never used Twitter."
That admission hasn't appeared to have slowed down the growth of his "official" Twitter account, for which the Democratic National Committee recently shopped around for a new administrator. It's grown by more than a million followers since then -- from about 2.6 million to 3.9 million.
During that same speech in Shanghai, he went on to say, "My thumbs are too clumsy to type in things on the phone." Doesn't look that way from this picture, right, unless A) it was staged, or B) he was composing the following e-mail:
fda jfl;hdsajg dl;isagjdal;ksf jfjda;rsklg;i asdl;sfjdas;tf das;ik;nlfj asd;afjas f
-- Mark Milian
Photo: Associated Press