Does the President Need to Be a Techie?
A painful lesson I learned a long time ago was not to entrust the leadership of a high-tech venture to someone who has no feel for technology — no matter what their other skills. Without an intuitive understanding based in experience of relevant dynamics, the risk of poor, or even fatal, decision-making grows dramatically. A high-tech CEO doesn’t have to be a software developer, but a venture is not well-served if he or she is so removed and uncomfortable with the basics that it’s necessary to rely entirely on others.
This was all brought to mind by the current controversy about John McCain’s self-proclaimed techno-illiteracy. Does it really matter?
I’d say yes, because US, as an advanced economy, has become a kind of high-tech venture. Technology is completely intertwined in every sector, and if you don’t have a feel for it, you’re going to wind up exercising poor judgment. So, not using (in fact, not knowing HOW to use) a Blackberry or a web browser does make a difference.
Barack Obama has a basic comfort with the Internet. He regularly Skypes with his daughters when he’s on the road (which is virtually all the time now). He’s on his Blackberry all the time.
Barack Obama is going to appoint a Chief Technology Officer. Policies in an Obama administration, whether in education or homeland security or any area, are more likely to take advantage of technological innovation and avoid pitfalls and be better policy for that.
I wish the same could be said of John McCain.