shd prez be on blckbry?

Posted on July 31, 2008

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We’ve all received them.  Those annoying Blackberry messages that take a team of managers to decipher.   In my office, the only person important enough to send those is, rightfully so, the president.  We all gather around our laptops and type the message into the decoder (aka: asking the person that’s been here the longest, and therefore has translating street cred), make a decision or answer his questions and move on with our day.  This is standard office fare in the life of GenXYZers.

As my client Compete will tell you, we’re also a group of young, empowered voters that gets most of our election news and information online.  Regardless of the party we plan to endorse come November, this is an election that will largely be fought and won online.   That’s why this story by  Lee Gomes, the WSJ technology reporter is so interesting.  It’s about how the presidential candidates differ when it comes to technology literacy.  As you can guess, Obama totes a Blackberry, listens to an iPod and in general, stays connected.  As for his older Republican counterpart?  McCain has admitted to being computer illiterate.  As Gomes points out, he may be the very last generation of presidential candidate to be allowed to do so.

So, do GenXYZers need a candidate that’s down with texting, AIMing and email?  Or, are all those things too distracting for the Commander in Chief?  I think you could convincingly argue either way.  Why does the President need to be online when he has a staff to read his emails and he’s afforded instant access to some of the greatest, most thought provoking leaders of our time — in person, whenever he feels like chatting?  Also, is it dangerous to leave junior staffers to decode Blackberry-speak that involves decisions about running the country?

So, if it’s not about sparking original ideas or thought or even instant accessibility, maybe it is about empathizing with my generation, a group of individuals that only vaguely remembers the days before we were all chained to technology 24/7.  Maybe it’s about truly experiencing the sentiment of the 46% of Americans who used technology to participate in the political process this year

Can technology be a waste of time?  Sure, if you want it to be.  Really, deciphering those Blackberry messages is no short task.  But, do the presidents of our company and our country need to be technologically literate?  Absolutely.  Can you imagine the education and business policies that will be enacted if the ultimate veto power goes to a man that can’t use a computer?

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