November 17, 2008

Looking Ahead

A Modern Presidency?

In Gulliver's Travels, one of the places the hero visits is Laputa, a land where all those in power are accompanied by "Flappers."   These functionaries block the ears and mouths of the important and powerful with their flaps, permitting the powerful to fully occupy themselves with their thoughts.  When the Flapper thinks their person needs to hear something, they remove the ear block. 

This, of course, is a satire on courtiers, bureaucrats, pages, messengers, lackeys, yes-men and sycophants that inevitably surround leaders.   It is every bit as true today as when Swift wrote about it.  Our President is incredibly busy and important, and cannot be bothered by such petty things as the actual unfiltered opinions of the people.

This leads me to the current hoo-rah about President-Elect Obama and his electronic leash.  Err, I mean Crackberry.  As with many of our executives in business and politics, he is extremely fond of his, using it throughout his day to keep on top of his schedule, contacts, and things that Must Be Remembered.   Entire working styles have evolved around rapid access, fast emails and text-messaging, synched calendars, and so on.

Of course, It Must Go.  Security risk, you know.  Oh, and those pesky legal discovery laws.  Would hate to have to explain the "missing 18 emails" some independant counsel wants to dig up.  Besides, the REAL risk here is that he might accidentally be exposed to non-filtered, un-agenda-approved EXTERNAL INPUT.  Not to go off into conspiracy-land, here, but if I'm a career apparatchik, that's the last thing I want to have happen!

Welcome to the Twenty-First century and the first of many disruptive technologies that will greatly alter How Things Get Done.
Welcome to the Twenty-First century and the first of many disruptive technologies that will greatly alter How Things Get Done.  There will be more, and the more "in-touch" the officeholder, the more dependant they will be on them to function "normally."  It does all of us a disservice to immediately cripple a decision-maker by removing their tools.

It is time for a quick review of how our laws work and interact in the face of technology not even dreamt of when those laws were first written.  A web-cam & microphone in every elected officials office?  Insta-mail with 'smart' summarizers to 'poll' the public far better than Gallup can ever hope for?  Automatic electric shock administration to the next Congresscritter using the word "bailout" ?

One thing is for sure, the future sure doesn't look like it used to.

Posted by: Douglas Oosting at 06:55 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Posted to category: Looking Ahead


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