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canonafficionado
15th May 2010, 01:00 AM
Obama said that devices like the iPad, iPod, PlayStation and Xbox are a distraction rather than something that empowers people. He says that they put pressure on democracy and on the country.

It's not uncommon for new tech to be criticised but I thought he had once embraced technology.

icant
15th May 2010, 01:14 AM
Obama said that devices like the iPad, iPod, PlayStation and Xbox are a distraction rather than something that empowers people. He says that they put pressure on democracy and on the country.


Did he?


And meanwhile, you’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank that high on the truth meter. And with iPods and iPads; and Xboxes and PlayStations -- none of which I know how to work -- (laughter) -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.
Remarks by the President at Hampton University Commencement | The White House (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-hampton-university-commencement)

Seems reasonable to me.


It's not uncommon for new tech to be criticised but I thought he had once embraced technology.

I would give it more thought if he said what you said he did. But he didn’t say what you said he did. Which IMO tends to support his argument: he makes a statement, you make your own statement, discuss what he didn’t say, voila low on the truth-meter, and a distraction.

canonafficionado
15th May 2010, 01:34 AM
Agree the headline draws the point too sharply. But he is saying new tech and information ("all of this") is "putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy".

In context of a wide speech I think it's sits in there ok as something fairly innocous. But the question to me is exactly how does technology not at least empower and better inform people?

EDIT: Could the thread title be amended to 'information and the use of technology puts pressure ' to make it better resemble comments in the speech.

Mecha
15th May 2010, 02:16 AM
information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation.

I strongly disagree.

If information really is a distraction/diversion/form of entertainment then I think we are entering a better age in mankind.

When sitting on the train reading wikipedia about different places, animals, people etc. on my iPad becomes a negative on society, somewhere down the line we f'ed up.

Azabu
15th May 2010, 02:49 AM
Its a matter of signal to noise in terms of the amount and nature of the information and what people do or don't do with it.

mjankor
15th May 2010, 09:52 AM
I think he's making the point I've seen a few times.

30 years ago you and your neighbour would have the same facts, but could have different opinions.

Now, you can not only have different opinions, but because there's so much information out there, you can also pick and choose your own facts.

Colbert also makes a similar observation with "truthiness".

Eg: go follow creationist/evolution discussions for a while. You'll find there's quite a few creationists who read nothing but creationist websites, listen to only creationists sources, etc. They end up with a bunch of 'facts' that, to them, appear correct, but in reality are entirely wrong. (Just an aside, also look up quote mining -> *points to OP*)

IMO, what Obama is trying to say is that, information without context or quality control can be a problem. The device used to access that information is not actually that important.

Lutze
15th May 2010, 10:26 AM
The device used to access that information is not actually that important.

And the problem there is that he actually singled out some reasonable tech. Media being an animal in the room that can't be controlled except by it's owners who have their own agenda will always twist words as we've seen here.

The President should not have mentioned devices, at least in my view.

icant
15th May 2010, 10:45 AM
information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation.
I strongly disagree.

If information really is a distraction/diversion/form of entertainment then I think we are entering a better age in mankind.

When sitting on the train reading wikipedia about different places, animals, people etc. on my iPad becomes a negative on society, somewhere down the line we f'ed up.

The whole quote still sounds reasonable to me. . The selected quote above doesn’t. In fact the whole speech sounded OK (to me).

Remarks by the President at Hampton University Commencement | The White House (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-hampton-university-commencement)

Selection:

So education is what has always allowed us to meet the challenges of a changing world. And Hampton, that has never been more true than it is today. This class is graduating at a time of great difficulty for America and for the world. You’re entering a job market, in an era of heightened international competition, with an economy that’s still rebounding from the worst crisis since the Great Depression. You’re accepting your degrees as America still wages two wars –- wars that many in your generation have been fighting.

And meanwhile, you’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank that high on the truth meter. And with iPods and iPads; and Xboxes and PlayStations -- none of which I know how to work -- (laughter) -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.

Class of 2010, this is a period of breathtaking change, like few others in our history. We can’t stop these changes, but we can channel them, we can shape them, we can adapt to them. And education is what can allow us to do so. It can fortify you, as it did earlier generations, to meet the tests of your own time.

And first and foremost, your education can fortify you against the uncertainties of a 21st century economy. In the 19th century, folks could get by with a few basic skills, whether they learned them in a school like Hampton, or picked them up along the way. As long as you were willing to work, for much of the 20th century, a high school diploma was a ticket into a solid middle class life. That is no longer the case.

You’ve decided to quote and debate this part:

information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation.

Lets say in your post, I only quote some parts:

I strongly disagree.

If information really is a distraction/diversion/form of entertainment then I think we are entering a better age in mankind.

When sitting on the train reading wikipedia about different places, animals, people etc. on my iPad becomes a negative on society, somewhere down the line we f'ed up.

i.e.:

iPad becomes a negative on society

See, I’ve changed my post topic. Is ignoring the context of your post, and navel gazing just this quote reasonable? e.g., “Can Mecha at least consider than iPads are useful for somethings?”, “I thought Mecha liked technology...”, “Why does Mecha think that iPads suck?”

At some point someone will throw the “Why are you defending Obama so much?” “Why are you an Obama-lover?” question. “Because you know, it’s just a discussion, we’re just asking questions”.

I just thought it was a reasonably inspiring speech (not his best) aimed at a class of graduating students. And the discussion (especially on the tech blogs e.g. "iPads and iPods put pressure on democracy says Obama”) about just the iPad statement takes away from it. And actually demonstrates how much energy can be expended discussing minutiae (IMO wrongly) while (in this case) the larger picture is illuminating.

So, Mecha, you are free to think that iPads suck. But I disagree; they are quite useful.

SRG
15th May 2010, 01:36 PM
I agree with him, there is a lot of 'information' out there that can distract.

On the media issue, I think that is another point he is making, it is not any longer just media. It is anyone who has access to technology and gain credence beyond their worth.

Another point from a democratic point of view I suspect is the ability of a Government, getting people focused on real issues can become a challenge. A good example was the health care debate in the US. Both sides just threw wild claims around and meanwhile the real point of health care reform was lost in the noise.

Whilst some will claim that is good, cause Governments just spin everything, I do think there are times when it is a real issue and could potentially see people voting based on false information.

Last of course is the engagement with the real society and getting out there and doing things. Whilst we all get distracted by our shiny toys, there are people with real needs out there and maybe less time on the distractions would be a good thing for society.

iTy
15th May 2010, 05:21 PM
Just a comment about the threat to democracy. I believe what he is saying is that all the information (by varying degrees of accuracy) coupled with people with an agenda to destabilise democracy can reach Americans via said devices with their content.

An example would be terrorist organisations putting out misinformation. This misinformation can appear as subtle at first, then eventually lead to content of a more radical nature. The explicit threat here, is that they may be able to reach disillusioned, young - say Arab men; and draw them into radicalism etc. This is, of course an extreme example and hope that it never happens.

I don't believe that his statement actually means that "iPads and iPods put pressure on democracy".

The comment on creationists is another example the Mr. O is talking about.

canonafficionado
15th May 2010, 06:42 PM
(snipped)

IMO, what Obama is trying to say is that, information without context or quality control can be a problem. The device used to access that information is not actually that important.

This seems right. He's trying to encourage people, particularly this audience, to always search out a truth and and to be cautious of the way information is presented.

It's probably more of a comment about media than about the technology, which is why like others have said he probably needn't have mentioned specific devices.