Hater in Chief: iPod, iPads, XBoxes, PS3’s are just a diversion

Barack Obama at Hampton Class of 2010 Commencement
Barack Obama at Hampton Class of 2010 Commencement

Obama: Don't listen to a podcast, unless it's mine. (Photo: AP/Steve Helber)

President Obama gave the commencement address at Hampton University and railed against mobile and home entertainment devices.

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.

via Tech World Explodes Over Obama’s Anti-iPad Remarks | The Atlantic Wire.

Huh? I guess Obama’s oft discussed iPod playlist was really Reggie Love’s “music for oldheads” custom iTunes playlist after all.

The truth is iPods, iPads, XBoxes and Playstations can be used to deliver podcasts, record or playback lectures, play books on tape, view photo albums, deliver stimulative games (boggle, scrabble, crosswords, sodoku) and to deliver multimedia magazine and news info-apps. They can also be used to purchase movies, television shows and access a variety of internet resources. I use my iPod Nano to listen and watch lectures from universities I couldn’t get into, classic speeches, NPR on terrestrial radio, web only news and commentary and watch exercise instructional videos.

Even as far as entertainment goes, I love being able to podcast music that isn’t A&R driven, payola lite top 40 that’s increasingly dominated by auto-tune, 360 deal teeny boppers and trap music (disclaimer: nothing wrong with this music some of the time for some people, just something wrong when it’s on all the time).

He wouldn’t be alone in people on his side of the power pyramid not knowing the full benefits or how to operate these devices. I marveled at the ignorance of the Supreme Court Justices regarding how mobile networks, mobile devices, texts and pages work.

But its almost comically tone deaf coming from a President who has his own video and audio podcasts. This reminds me of the time I was in church (in the late 90s) and the seminarian guest preacher proclaimed from the pulpit that the internet was evil and corrupting. Later in the greeting line when she asked me how I was doing and I told her I was a software engineer co-op for the spring and summer she said she was glad to see I was doing well. Not only does Obama embrace a myopic and dismissive view of this technology, I am sure Obama the commencement speaker would congratulate a Hampton grad who had secured a job with Apple (makers of iPods and iPads), Microsoft (xbox) or Sony (PS3).

Its is even more tone deaf that President Obama was at Hampton University when he delivered these remarks. Many black Americans and Africans of young adult and teen ages are twice as likely as their white counterparts to use mobile devices to access the internet and are more likely to use mobile friendly services like twitter to seek, relay and collect information (24% of 17million twitter users are African American).

Tools, Mr. President. These are just tools. You can argue knives are bad because people get stabbed, but have fun with your spork and your steak dinner, hater!