Archive for Friday, November 7, 2008

Net Worth: New ‘illiteracy’ exposed during presidential election

November 7, 2008


"Future Shock" author Alvin Toffler is widely credited with being among the earliest to predict a "digital revolution."

He is responsible for a quote that has of late taken on even greater meaning: "The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn."

Nowhere was that more evident than in this week's presidential election.

When writing 30 or so Net Worth columns already this year, I came across a number of topics that involved the presidential race and how it was being waged online.

With each topic - whether it was the way candidates were being extolled in music videos or how one's lack of voting might result in YouTube outrage - I strove hard to find two sides to the story. Only it became evident that the "other side" was negligible or absent.

The Democrats were spanking the Republicans in all things Internet-related. Information, accessibility, videos, audio, multimedia, etc.

Maybe Al Gore really did invent the Internet.

Now Republicans can't be THAT bad when it comes to embracing technology. I mean, who is designing all those missile guidance systems?

But whether Barack Obama should be deemed a cyberpioneer or not, the message was clear that his campaign considered the Web a huge priority.

John McCain not so much.

It's been cited often that John McCain admitted to being "an illiterate" when it came to the computer. He confirmed in a New York Times piece that he didn't use e-mail or go online without help from his wife. In interviews the words "blog" and "BlackBerry" rolled off his tongue like he was phonetically trying to translate Portuguese.

It was the most telling example of his disconnect with the "real America" than any bit of economic or religious dogma.

Now, I must admit, to the chagrin of many, I like McCain. I think he's smart and interesting and experienced.

But I also think my mom is smart and interesting and experienced. And despite her stack of master's degrees, she still can't maneuver her way around a computer like my 5-year-old daughter can. I would think that would pose a problem if she were attempting to get a job where she were in charge of people who utilize computers.

At this point in our collective civilization, America is a nation of software users, Internet junkies and e-mail buddies. Just as you wouldn't expect a pacifist to rule ancient Sparta, you wouldn't expect the U.S. to elect a Luddite president.

Our latest generation is being weaned on the computer from birth. And those in the elderly, increasingly ex-communicated generation are having trouble coming to terms with that.

Of course, age is a two-way street. I've used a computer as my main professional tool for 15 years now, and I'll bet within five years my kid will be better at it than I am.

Is this mouse-clicking technology the panacea for all cultural, social and political ills? Not exactly.

Author Toffler also wrote: "Society needs people who take care of the elderly and who know how to be compassionate and honest. Society needs people who work in hospitals. Society needs all kinds of skill that are not just cognitive; they're emotional, they're affectionate. You can't run the society on data and computers alone."

Here's hoping that the next four years promises a welcome environment for both such skills.


Satirical 9 years, 5 months ago

You are all making the same logical fallacy and attack the author of this article is using. Being unable to use a desktop computer, because you can't reach your arms high enough (due to them being broken repeatedly as a POW), isn't the same as being unable to use any technology. The author implicitly claims McCain is illiterate about technology because he can't use or desktop computer and doesn't own a blackberry (I guess I am computer illiterate if that is the only qualification even though I have built almost every computer I have ever owned.) This is a smear tactic that was used repeatedly during the campaign.Many bloggers today make the same fallacy that because I explain the reason he can't use a particular piece of technology also means that is the same reason he can't use any technology (which you also assume incorrectly). He can't use a computer, and may not be the most tech savvy person around, but that doesn't mean his is incompetent about all technology. Also use of a blackberry and a desktop computer isn't a requirement to be POTUS.

Satirical 9 years, 5 months ago

Logicsound04:."McCain self-admittedly isn't technologically savvy"Being technologically unsavvy is extremely different from being technologically illiterate.----------------------"What has been pointed out is that being technologically "illiterate" may hinder one's effectiveness as president over a technologically innundated nation." LS04There is the implication that McCain is technologically illiterate and therefore he would be less effective. My counterargument simply pointed out why he may not be good with computers and that being unable to use a blackberry doesn't mean one is technologically illiterate. I would also counter that simply because he isn't tech savvy doesn't mean he couldn't be just as effective as someone who is tech savvy (but lacks any experience and has poor judgment). The easiest counterargument is the same one Obama supporters use when defending his lack of experience; he will have advisors helping him. If I had to choose a president I would prefer one that had experience and wasn't tech savvy vs. a president who is tech savvy but doesn't have experience or judgment.

Satirical 9 years, 5 months ago

Beatrice:."You can't buy a landslide."Are you naÃive enough to believe money didn't play an important role in this election? Maybe you should have been an Obama advisor because he thought money was important, which is why he backed out of a promise to accept public funding. If you advised him he could have kept his promise and still done just as well, and still spent way more money than McCain on negative ads. Is a 52% of the popular vote a landslide? I honestly thought he would win get at least 55%; given the war in Iraq, his huge monetary advantage, the unpopularity of Bush, and the economic crisis (which was caused by the Dems, but idiots blame the President)."Seriously, Sati, you are sounding like a sore loser. Time to move on." - beaAnd you sound like someone who is blindly following the cult of personality Barack Obama. I will move on the same way the liberals did after the last two elections, and will have a great deal of fun using the same tactics they used the last 8 years against them.

1029 9 years, 5 months ago

McCain's website probably didn't help him sway many voters. It was easy to find attacks on Obama, but very hard to find reasons why someone should consider voting for McCain. He even had a "Joe the Undereducated Idiot" mean "Joe the Plumber". Joe and Sarah would make a totally awesome republican ticket for 2012. They could firmly establish the republican party as the party of the idiot simpleton.

Satirical 9 years, 5 months ago

Max1:Do you know his medical condition? Are you a doctor? He can barely raise his arms above his shoulders and would be extremely difficult for him to use both a keyboard and a mouse.

Bucker00 9 years, 5 months ago

I thought McCain had explained a long time ago that it was easier to dictate his emails to his wife. Not that I was ever that wild about King Rino in the first place.

Liza Pehrson 9 years, 5 months ago

Great insight and foreshadowing on the future of our society, both political and otherwise. . . although I would argue that there are always more than "two sides" to every story.

Satirical 9 years, 5 months ago

McCain wasn't knowledgable about computers because he couldn't use them. After his stay in the Hanoi Hilton his arms were broken several times making him incapable of raising them high enough for a keyboard and mouse. I guess that is just a sacrifice he had to make. But our country has survived for hundreds of years without a President who was proficient with the internet, and probably could have lasted a while longer if McCain were elected president.Technology is used more heavily by the younger generation, whom tend to be liberal (until they are no longer naive about the world or have children), which is why there appears to be a digital divide. I suspect in a decade when this generation will, statistically speaking, turn conservative the gap will be narrowed.

Confrontation 9 years, 5 months ago

Bimbo Palin didn't even know that Africa isn't a country. Moron.

jonas_opines 9 years, 5 months ago

Satirical, do you actually believe what you just foisted on us, or is this a joke?If his physical disability from his torture and injuries is such that he can't use a computer, despite a huge variety of options available (such as, for instance, ya'know, lowering the keyboard), then its ridiculous to think that he'd be able to take the taxing burden of a presidential campaign at all, which he, of course, did twice. I don't know how You use your desktop (perhaps you nail the keyboard to the ceiling) but the level that the keyboard is at, optimally, is no higher than the level that you write by hand. It also mentions in the article that he Did use computer features, with the help of his wife. The interpretation I had was that his wife guided him through the process, as I would assume they would have mentioned a physical inability in the article, and it would be well known by now.What you've thrown out is the same as I recall in 2004, when so many various objections to Kerry were countered with "He won three purple hearts." It looks as foolish when you do it as it did back then.

beatrice 9 years, 5 months ago

"McCain wasn't knowledgable about computers because he couldn't use them."Satirical, please. I have two words for you: Stephen Hawking.If Hawking, stricken with ALS, can use a computer so can John McCain. The lies about his inability to work a keyboard is so over the top to be ridiculous. Even if he did it one finger at a time, he CAN work a keyboard if he wanted. He doesn't use a computer because he is 72! He is set in his ways and that is the only reason, and I say good for him. He has others who work it out for him. My goodness, the same arguments still going on? Come on. Time to pick new candidates and start fresh with the whole new debates and arguments. Since Obama won't be perfect and will make mistakes, let me be the first to say, "but Bush ..." Let us all hope for a prosperous new administration.

supertrampofkansas 9 years, 5 months ago

Satirical,I would argue that you missed the whole point of the article. I don't this writer is saying that because McCain does not have computer skills, he is not qualified to be President. I think he is saying that McCain's clearly stated lack of skills in this area hurt him in his effort to become the POTUS. Obama's camp was clearly outmaneuvering McCain's camp from a digital standpoint hence the reason for the writer's statement "you wouldn't expect the U.S. to elect a Luddite president". It does make you wonder even if McCain's own skill was lacking in this area, why weren't his own advisors keeping up with Obama's side in this respect. Was the writer's statements accurate that The "Democrats were spanking the Republicans in all things Internet-related. Information, accessibility, videos, audio, multimedia, etc."? To me, I would think this lack of foresight would be more of a concern from a qualification standpoint for McCain to be POTUS.

Maddy Griffin 9 years, 5 months ago

I thought the article was about computer literacy or the lack thereof. When did it turn into a pi$$ing contest over Obama vs. McCain.

Satirical 9 years, 5 months ago

beobachter...First, I never stated he couldn't you any technology, I only referred to desktop computers.Second, you are correct I do not know the extent of his injuries or all the technology available for people with disabilities. However, my guess is you are not fully aware of both of these factors either.Third, even assuming that his handicap allows him to use some forms of technology you make the leap that he doesn't use these and assume he doesn't have any desire; but yet you have the audacity to state I can't make a claim?

Satirical 9 years, 5 months ago

Supertrampofkansas:You make the same assumption the author of this article made. The Republicans used the new media, but it wasn't as successful because their target market isn't as familiar with technology as Obama's target market (younger voters). This wasn't a lack of foresight, it was focusing what little resources you have (he didn't have 650 million like Obama who bought the election) on your target market.

beatrice 9 years, 5 months ago

"Also use of a blackberry and a desktop computer isn't a requirement to be POTUS."Just looking at the evidence, I wouldn't be so quick to make that call. It can't be in the Constitution, but it might just be an unspoken requirement after all. In fact, I would be surprised if we ever have a president from this point on who can't use those devices.Regarding Obama "buying" the election, that would indicate that he won because he was simply able to buy more votes than McCain. That would mean that votes for McCain were also purchased, just not in as great quantity, correct? In other words, if my vote for Obama was purchased, than yours for McCain was as well. If you really think that more money to buy negative ads would have made a difference, then you are living in a dream world. You can't buy a landslide. I know that my vote for Obama had nothing to do with his resources, which came from donations from the people, not from the government like that Socialist McCain (see how silly such accusations are).Seriously, Sati, you are sounding like a sore loser. Time to move on.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.