The people I work with spend a lot of time and effort helping adults learn to how to use computers and the net in teaching the next generations. (me too!)
So, this kind of talk from John McCain, someone who potentially could be setting digital policy for the country, is a pretty poor example.
He said, ruefully, that he had not mastered how to use the Internet and relied on his wife and aides like Mark Salter, a senior adviser, and Brooke Buchanan, his press secretary, to get him online to read newspapers (though he prefers reading those the old-fashioned way) and political Web sites and blogs.
“They go on for me,” he said. “I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself. I don’t expect to be a great communicator, I don’t expect to set up my own blog, but I am becoming computer literate to the point where I can get the information that I need.”
Asked which blogs he read, he said: “Brooke and Mark show me Drudge, obviously. Everybody watches, for better or for worse, Drudge. Sometimes I look at Politico. Sometimes RealPolitics.”
I certainly don’t expect McCain, or Obama for that matter, to spend as much time as the people I know twittering or writing a blog.
However, a president in the 21st century should at least have a working knowledge of those and other communications tools, an understanding that comes from using them as a consumer.
And hearing a national leader admit “I don’t e-mail, I’ve never felt the particular need to e-mail” doesn’t inspire much confidence in his ability to learn.