McCain is Aware of the Internet

Last week at the Personal Democracy Forum 2008 (PdF 2008), Mark Soohoo, Deputy eCampaign Director for John McCain 2008, said in an exchange with Tracy Russo, former blogger for John Edwards: “McCain is Aware of the Internet”. The debate has also been fuelled in the blogosphere and tech milieu because McCain has tagged himself as computer illiterate. However, the debate raises the question; how much knowledge of technology and experience with social media does the incoming president need?

TechPresident posted on Monday June 30, 2008 a poll asking its users Does a Connected World Need a Connected POTUS? As of today 118 have voted in this way: 

·  Yes, a POTUS needs to have first-hand experience with the Internet in order to lead. 61%

·  No, not as long as a POTUS has a firm understanding of the Internet’s impact. 33%

·  No, a POTUS more important things to worry about than going online. 4%

 

I am debating with my self whether to vote YES or NO not as long as POTUS has a firm understanding of the Internet’s impact. For me, it has been necessary to have first-hand experience with the Internet in order to get a better understanding of its impact. On the other hand, I guess I could be twittering, networking on Facebook, and blogging and still not understand the impact of technology on society. It is helpful and intellectual stimulating to participate in discussions with professors, fellow students, and friends or reading books like Wikinomics, The Long Tail, the First Campaign, and the Revolution Will Not Be Televised in order to get a better understanding of the Internet’s impact. Therefore, it is positive to see that 94 percent of the votes have voted yes or no POTUS with firm understanding and not NO, a POTUS have more important things to worry about. (It would be interesting if the poll was representative for the whole population and not just readers of TechPresident).

 

In general, I have no problem that McCain is not using a PC or a MAC, cannot use a BlackBerry or Twitter. According to Garrett Graff´s lecture last semster and Joe Trippi in the Revolution Cannot be Televised, Howard Dean did not get the Internet. But I do care, if he does not understand that the world is much more connected today than it was just 30 years ago. The Long Tail illustrated how business is changing, personal relations is changing thanks to Facebook and MySpace. Even national security is changing because of the impact of the Internet.    

Policies on Technology
Obama has proposed to create a Chief technology officer at cabinet level to work on issues like infrastructure, transparency, and crisis communication. On his website, Obama demonstrates that he has an insight and a willingness to work on tech issues like:  

* Better filtering systems for parents
* Safeguard rights for privacy
* Open up government for citizens
* Online town meetings
* Employ blogs, wikis, and social networking to modernize agencies to modernize governmental decision making

 

McCain has not developed a separate tech policy as part of his presidential campaign. Maybe he has intregrated tech into each issue, I have to admit, I have not read all his issues descriptions in details – so it might be hidden somewhere down there! But I did find this, and, for instance, McCain has supported the Technology Innovation and Manufacturing Stimulation Act. To overcome the digital divide, McCain suggests:

“there’s lots of ways that you can encourage corporations who, in their own self-interest, would want to provide — would receive tax benefits, would receive credit, and many other ways for being involved in the schools and upgrading the quality of the equipment that they have, the quality of the students, and thereby providing a much-needed, well-trained work force.”


 
McCain is aware of the Internet, but asking corporate America in invest in tech infrastructure isn’t that the same as asking them to invest in highways?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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