John Murrell of Good Morning Silicon Valley has a good post up noting a recent New York Times interview where John McCain admits to Internet illiteracy. Murrell comments:
OK, if he were the 72-year-old guy down the block, I could cut him some slack. Whatever age you are, if you donâ€™t have any use for the Net, if you donâ€™t want the hassle of learning all that new stuff, fine â€¦ But if youâ€™re running for the highest office in the land and one of the most powerful positions on earth, shouldnâ€™t you at least know how to log on to the freakinâ€™ Internet by yourself? [McCain said] â€œI am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon.â€ Have it down fairly soon? Itâ€™s a double-click, Senator. A little closer together, sir â€” click-click. Sheesh. Ordinary folks from 3 to 103 have picked this up in minutes, and heâ€™ll have it down fairly soon.
Murrell goes on to say heâ€™s bothered by McCainâ€™s willful ignorance of the Internet not because such a thing is uncommon but because it shows an incurious streak that is not good for a leader.
I have to agree. Eight years ago it was probably still acceptable for a candidate running for president to be unengaged with the Internet. Now? Not so much. The Internet in its various applications will be the dominant mode of communication in the coming century (if it isnâ€™t already). I donâ€™t know if McCainâ€™s resistance to the technology reveals an incurious side but it doesnâ€™t speak well of how well heâ€™ll engage and fit in to a 21st century nation. From basic communication to commercial transactions to how weâ€™re forming our social bonds and networks, the Internet is vital. Not every American needs to log on, but the president surely needs more than a distant knowledge of how it all works.
McCain is an old man. The last thing he needs to be doing is looking out of date. For the sake of his image and campaign, I hope he figures out this Internet thing pretty quickly. Just having people read to you whatâ€™s online is not enough.