Image from XARKAGANDA
Did you hear? President Obama is threatening to regulate the tech industry in the name of ‘protecting democracy’! President Obama is putting technology on his ‘axis of evil’ list! President Obama is calling all new technology ‘dangerous diversions’! President Obama has declared war on technology! President Obama is warning of ‘iPad Perils’!
Actually … none of that stuff is true – but I bet you have read something similar today in a hype-titled post at some tech blog coupled with some out-of-context portion of a speech given by the President to the graduating class of Hampton University.
Here is the closest to the truth from the Guardian UK:
Obama warns against information ‘becoming a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment’
He speaks about how these kids are graduating at a time when there is tremendous international competition for jobs, in a world that is still reeling from the ‘great recession’, with two wars still being fought by kids their age, and in a media environment that bombards you 24/7 with information … entirely too much of which doesn’t rate too high on the ‘truth-meter’.
As for technology, he says that through the multitude of technology inputs information has become a source of entertainment rather than a tool of empowerment. None of this is any different than what was detailed through the research presented in, which told us in detail how the digital age has produced the least educated kids in decades:
The technology that was supposed to make young adults more astute, diversify their tastes, and improve their minds had the opposite effect.
So what Obama is stressing is that a solid education is needed, and part of that requires learning how to differentiate signal from noise, truth from opinion, quotes out of context and so on.
And yet it seems like the majority of the tech community has embraced Weird Al’s song ‘Dare to be Stupid’. Some right-wing based sites immediately said that Obama was waging a ‘war on technology’, taking micro-clips from the talk to support it, sounding all outrages, and generally spreading the sort of FUD and misinformation you’d expect.
But then a bunch of tech sites grabbed those threads and seeing threats to our dear and precious technology … just read the snippits in the articles and propagated the misinformation. C’mon people! This isn’t about politics – it is about integrity! Haven’t we seen enough in the last few weeks about how quickly misinformation can spread in an age when everyone seems to be out for nothing but a few quick hits, so you have a couple of actual writers who get copied by follow-ons, scraped by hit-grabbers, linked by aggregators, and so on … until that initial mis-information becomes so oft-repeated that it is seen as fact.
Sadly I couldn’t finish typing this from my iPad, because Obama’s technology police came and took it away from me.