Thanks to John Daly’s blog reference I had a chance to watch Barak Obama’s talk at Google yesterday. It is interesting to hear what the candidates have to say about their views of technology, and it is particularly interesting to me as someone who aims at studying this.
First, i think the fact that Obama was talking at Google is interesting. Just a few weeks ago Hilary Clinton, together with her husband, visited Microsoft campus. I find it a little bit symbolic how images of the candidates align with the images of technological companies they chose to visit. Obama went to the young, dynamic, and innovative Google. Clinton went to the established and experienced Microsoft. During his talk and the Q&A, Obama made a few direct references to his resemblance with Google founders.
Second, the rhetoric Obama used to talk about technology. I have to admit it was expectedly technocratic. He talked about the information age, about the inevitable connection between technoloy and progress, and did not forgot to talk about threats from outside to the US technological leadership. To his credit, i have to notice that he explicitly committed to net neutrality (and investment in basic research) and at the same time promised “intense” anti-trust to insure competition. The last point is interesting as Google itself is moving into spotlight of anti-trust authorities. The greatest applause was gained however when he talked about reforming the immigration policy, specifically referring to HB1 visas issue.
The last point i want to highlight is Obama’s reference to the digital divide. Interestingly, i don’t think he ever used the term, but it was a topic crossing his entire talk. Addressing the digital divide he framed it similarly to the mainstream discourse. He talked about access to technology as an issue worldwide and broadband connectivity as the main problem in the US. Literacy was briefly mentioned, but the main topic was still access. It is interesting because this discourse has dominated the US political arena for over a decade now. There was a shift from talking about just access to talking about broadband access, but the primary idea remained.
Somewhat unrelated, but still interesting detail was Obama mentioning that over 300,000 people have profiles on his website. This is not related to the point i was making in this post, but just an interesting fact. If you have the time, here is the video on YouTube:
And if you have extra time, here is a link to the Q&A session. It didn’t really deal with technology, but with more general topics.