Based on the integral role technology played in President-elect Barack Obama’s campaign, as well as recent announcements that he will be creating a chief technology officer in the federal government for the first time, ed-tech experts suggest that the new administration could revolutionize the way technology is viewed in the United States, and, it is hoped, in education.
“I think Obama is the first president that’s making that switch to the Internet presidency,” says Jim Hirsch, the associate superintendent for academic and technology services for the 54,000-student Plano, Texas, school district.
President-elect Obama is doing for the Internet what John F. Kennedy did for television, says Hirsch, by making it a common and essential staple of American life.
Tracy Gray, the director of the Washington-based National Center for Technology Innovation, or NCTI, believes that Obama’s move to appoint a chief technology officer demonstrates a shift in the way that technology is seen in this country.
“This is in fact recognizing the critical role that technology will play in America’s role to be competitive,” she says.
There is an ironic technological twist for Obama as he assumes the presidency. Although the public is used to seeing him sending and receiving messages through his BlackBerry, he will likely have to stop using the wireless device. That’s because the Presidential Records Act requires that all presidential correspondence be made part of the public record, and that would likely include e-mail messages sent and received on the BlackBerry.
A version of this article appeared in the January 21, 2009 edition of Digital Directions as The Internet Presidency?