Tech World Explodes Over Obama's Anti-iPad Remarks

The president hits a geek nerve

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Are techies more zealous than gun owners? By the looks of their reaction to President Obama's remarks on "iPods and iPads," maybe so. Many will recall the NRA-fueled firestorm over Obama's comments on small-town Americans clinging to their guns. A corresponding outrage is now brewing in technology circles after the president criticized the sacred cow of tech: shiny gadgets. First, here are the president's seemingly innocuous words:

With iPods and iPads and 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.

Blasphemy! cries the techsphere.

  • Horrible Advice, writes Kevin Gamble at High Touch: "Telling the next generation to turn off their information appliances and to disengage from their knowledge flows is doing them a disservice.  Learning to live in the flow is the new imperative. This is the edge where value is being created. We can only hope those young people at Hampton University were busy reading their feeds on their smart phones, and that they filtered-out the President's bad advice."
  • Does Obama Have Amnesia?  Implying hypocrisy MacDailyNews reminds readers that Obama used video games to get elected. The video reveals Obama campaign ads inserted in a speed-racing game:

  • What Is He Talking About? wonders Harry McCracken at Technologizer: "The iPad reference is the one that really threw me. Like a book or a magazine, an iPad is a receptacle for content–content that can be informative, distracting, diverting, entertaining, right or wrong. And at the moment, at least, virtually no content is iPod-specific–it’s the same stuff we’re consuming on PCs–and, oftentimes, in books, magazines, and newspapers. In what sense does it put new pressure on graduating seniors, the country, or the democracy?"
  • He's Got It Backwards, writes Chris Matyszczyk at CNET: "Instant access to instantly concocted information does put additional pressure on everyone's critical faculties. Yet it also allows people better access to opposing points of view, to opportunities of verification, to asking their fellow humans for help and guidance."
  • The President Is Delusional  Stowe Boyd writes, "President Obama decides that digital distraction is a political issue. Is he kidding? We have a world in chaos -- ecological mess, wars, a wounded economy, unemployment -- and he decides to warn college seniors about overuse of shiny mobile devices?
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