Obama laments technology, shallowness of information age

Apple's i-Pad: a good idea with bad consequences? (AFP)

President Barack Obama lamented Sunday that in the iPad and Xbox era, information had become a diversion that was imposing new strains on democracy, in his latest critique of modern media.

Obama, who often chides journalists and cable news outlets for obsessing with political horse race coverage rather than serious issues, told a class of graduating university students that education was the key to progress.

“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 all that high on the truth meter,” Obama said at Hampton University, Virginia.

“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,” Obama said.

He bemoaned the fact that “some of the craziest claims can quickly claim traction,” in the clamor of certain blogs and talk radio outlets.

“All of this is not only putting new pressures on you, it is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy.”

Obama, who uses the handful of Commencement addresses that he delivers each year to meditate on societal developments broader than the minutiae of everyday politics, warned the world was at a moment of “breathtaking change.”

“We can’t stop these changes… but we can adapt to them,” Obama said, adding that US workers were in a battle with well-educated foreign workers.

“Education… can fortify you, as it did earlier generations, to meet the tests of your own time,” he said.

Hampton University is a historically black college, and Obama noted the huge disparity in educational achievement between African Americans and other racial groups in the United States and the world.

But he urged the graduates to take inspiration from the example of Dorothy Height, a civil and women’s rights icon who died, aged 98, last month, who fought racial prejudice to secure a college education.

“A black woman, in 1929, refusing to be denied her dream of a college education,” Obama said, reprising Height’s life story.

“Refusing to be denied her rights, refusing to be denied her dignity, refusing to be denied… her piece of America’s promise.”

Obama argued that from the days of the pioneer politicians who founded the United States, until the modern day, education and knowledge had been the key to progress and US democracy.

He drew a line between Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and today’s challenges.

“What Jefferson recognized… that in the long run, their improbable experiment — called America — wouldn’t work if its citizens were uninformed, if its citizens were apathetic, if its citizens checked out, and left democracy to those who didn’t have the best interests of all the people at heart.

“It could only work if each of us stayed informed and engaged, if we held our government accountable, if we fulfilled the obligations of citizenship.”

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10 Responses to "Obama laments technology, shallowness of information age"

  1. Pingback: Did Obama Diss The iPad? | THE Tech Scoop

  2. woody188  May 10, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Makes me sick to hear “El Presidente” try to quote/praise Jefferson. He still talks the talk, but he sure walks like a globalist fascist.

  3. Almandine  May 10, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    Yep, one of the oldest tricks of psychological persuasion… insulating his believers against the “free flow of information” he knows will expose his sorry-ness.

  4. Carl Nemo  May 11, 2010 at 1:09 am

    “What Jefferson recognized… that in the long run, their improbable experiment — called America — wouldn’t work if its citizens were uninformed, if its citizens were apathetic, if its citizens checked out, and left democracy to those who didn’t have the best interests of all the people at heart.” extract from article

    Ahh, there’s nothing quite like the thoughts of our “silver-tongued” judas goat who launched his presidency on the campaign trail pabulum of “change we can believe in”, all the while plugging in retreads from past administrations that have surely gotten us in our current fix and all with the complicity of the MSM and federally manipulated school system destroyed by the meddling of the Federal government over many years insuring the he his ilk can rise to power and then smugly criticize “We the People” for having fallen asleep at the wheel of life; ie., the engineered “dumbing down” of a society.

    He and his shadowy controllers have us exactly where they want us to be, now he has the hubris to rub our noses in their collective duplicitous sh*t… : |

    Our citizens have never been so informed as in these times with the www’s blogs and proactive political sites along with a host of information at our fingertips, but seemingly all this activism is of to no avail due to the fact that these entrenched duopolists through their deep pockets shadowy corporate sponsors are so entrenched, so smug, that our cries for true change are simply being patronized.

    His above quote also shows that he isn’t the brightest bulb in the bin, but simply a slick-talking pol that’s been synthesized for our times; ie., a holding president between republican tenure; i.e., the flagship party of the wealthy class.

    I, along with millions of others have had a bellyful of his play-acting and rue the day we so foolishly cast a vote for him. He and his retread appointees are slowly but surely dealing the coup de grace to this once great nation and there’s seemingly nothing we can do about it shy of outright revolution.

    It seems it’s become a class war of “We the people” vs. the corporations…!

    Carl Nemo **==

  5. Warren  May 11, 2010 at 2:07 am

    “Don’t distract yourself with all these other sources of information. Save yourself the headache, and save our nation from divergent points of view. Just listen to me.”

    —W—

  6. griff  May 11, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    What a joker.

  7. b mcclellan  May 11, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    I thought ,
    but upon review, knew I, Birds wend and fly flappingly
    singing beautifully when none are listening to our own personal artillery, and to our shame in that,
    honesty targets elusiveness betraying position before total explanation.

    I would wager a nights peaceful sleep is an unknown entity not far from here. Hey Griff….

  8. Carl Nemo  May 12, 2010 at 12:10 am

    Hey Griff…

    Nice to see you posting again albeit in a somewhat diminished fashion… / : |

    Seemingly I’ve become the “red-haired” step-child to this site since every post in the past several days I’ve had to beseech Mr. Thompson to release my comments to his CHB board.

    Possibly the “thought police” have kicked his door and want a list of the Nemo’s, griff’s et al. that relentlessly work at smashing their feelgood politically based disinformation pinata’… :D

    Carl Nemo **==

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