Friday, January 23, 2009

Did Bush Use Carrier Pigeons?

The Obama campaign was all about using current technology--contacting people through emails. Asking people to donate little amounts online, matching people up with similar online donors, etc. Obama loves his Blackberry and doesn't want to let go. So when the Obama team moved into the White House, they were not happy with what they found:

"Obama officials ran smack into the constraints of the federal bureaucracy yesterday, encountering a jumble of disconnected phone lines, old computer software, and security regulations forbidding outside e-mail accounts. What does that mean in 21st-century terms? No Facebook to communicate with supporters. No outside e-mail log-ins. No instant messaging."

Man. That's like going to work one day and finding out that your office has disconnected you from Youtube, Facebook, and (worst of all) G-chat. (I know. Terrifying, but it happens.)

The new administration wants to be all up on technology and using that to connect with citizens, which I think is great. It encourages people to be informed because they feel like part of the process. It may even lead to people doing more research about a topic that inspires/enrages them and contacting their local government official about changes. But apparently it's a long way to go to get the White House set up to that level.

"It is kind of like going from an Xbox to an Atari," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said of his new digs."


I actually find it kind of amazing that, even in the last eight years, "Laptops were scarce, assigned to only a few people in the West Wing." I mean, I know Obama represents a new (tech-savvy) generation taking control, but Bush entered office in 2000. Even my family had the internet by then. How did most people in the White House survive without a laptop? Did they only have one available at meetings?

Of course, I also like to imagine Bush, Cheney, and Rice sending smoke signals, calling for the Pony Express, and writing long, wordy letters. It might explain a lot of our foreign relations problems.