I'm a huge fan of the president. I loved how his campaign used social media to help drive him to victory in 2008. I think he's generally a smart, well-informed and extremely articulate man, but today he said something incredibly stupid about the iPad and I have to say something. Mashable reports the president while speaking on misinformation in general blamed the iPad in part for the spread of inaccurate ideas:
"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."
Let me say, he sounded downright foolish with this statement. First of all XBox and Playstation: They're used mostly for games, not for news, blogs and other information. Secondly iPods are used mostly for music, the Touch being an exception because you can access the App Store. Finally, it's clear he never used an iPad or he wouldn't have lumped it in with larger point he was trying to make.
Information is Power
If the president had taken five minutes to actually use an iPad, he would know that it is incredibly empowering. Yes, there is lots of information out there. Yes, it can be distracting and sometimes wrong, but he should look at the BBC app or the Guardian's photojournalism app or any number of choices that provide information at your fingertips just by opening the browser, many of which are coming from mainstream quality news sources. Is there misinformation out there? Absolutely there is, but to suggest that a beautiful piece of hardware is preventing freedom instead of encouraging it? Well, that's just not true and it's downright ignorant in my view to suggest it is.
He Sounds Like a Technophobe
When the president, a man who was known to love his Blackberry before taking office, makes statements like this, he is actually spreading the very same time of misinformation he is railing against. He doesn't help make his point when he lumps game boxes, mp3 players and media devices into one statement and then blames the hardware for the problem. The iPad is a tool when used correctly that could actually help encourage a more informed electorate. People who have stopped reading newspapers and magazines could actually get their news from a variety of (mostly) quality news sources and get more viewpoints than was ever possible without sitting in the library every day for hours and poring over the periodicals.
The president should really think more carefully, and understand what he's talking before he opens his mouth to criticize something he clearly didn't understand. When he makes statements like this, he comes out sounding foolish and misinformed. Maybe somebody should fork over the $600 and buy him one and he can see the beauty of the iPad for himself, but until he's tried one, with all due respect, he should just not say anything.
Photo by cyberuly on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.