“Will Obama Have A Computer?” Seriously?

by on January 24, 2009 · 17 comments

I can’t believe we’re actually asking whether Obama—the candidate who promised to bring the Federal government (and perhaps everyone else) into the Web 2.0 era whether they like it or not—will have a “personal computer.”

The “webiness” of Obama’s predecessors is just embarrassing:   

Clinton famously sent only two e-mails while he was president, one to test whether he could push the “send” button and one to John Glenn, sent while the former Ohio senator was aboard the space shuttle…

During his presidency, George W. Bush didn’t have a personal log-in to the White House Internet server, nor did he have a personal whitehouse.gov e-mail address. (He gave up his private e-mail account, G94B@aol.com, just before his first inauguration.) When he did go online, there were some things he couldn’t access. During Bush’s tenure, the White House’s IT department blocked sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and most of MySpace. The ability to comment on blogs was blocked, as was certain content that was deemed offensive. According to David Almacy, who served as Bush’s director for Internet and e-communications from 2005-07, only two people had access to the iTunes store during that period: Almacy, who had to upload speeches to the site, and the president’s personal aide, so that he could download songs for Bush’s iPod.

Pipes and tubes, pipes and tubes, my friends…  

If Obama decides not to implement whatever legal or technical changes would be required for him to do something so simple as having a computer on his desk, I suppose we’ll know that he’s not really all that interested—at least on a personal level—in all his rhetoric about the power of the Internet to make government more transparent and accountable.  Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

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