Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Change They Still Need

After reading this article just now, I realized something else that President Obama needs to do during his four to eight years in the White House: he needs to embark on a massive updating of the technological infrastructure not just in the White House, but throughout the government bureaucracy.

I am a pretty big fan of the TV show 24. For those of you who've seen the show, you will remember that Jack Bauer always seems to track down the bad guys and save the day not due solely to his general badassness but also due to some crack tech support from the computer people back in the CTU office, who always seem to have science fiction-like technology at their fingertips. When I read about the actual technologies they are using in places like the White House, I hear things like "Windows '98" and "no instant messaging."

What the Obama team needs to do is completely take apart the existing technology infrastructure and replace it not only with the most modern technologies, but make it adaptable so that when the next great revolution in technology arrives, our government can easily take advantage of it, all as a part of moving towards more efficient governance.

The lack of instant messaging in the White House is an issue that will become more pressing as time goes on. The biggest problem blocking IM in the White House is that all the chats would have to be recorded, just like all other correspondence within the White House. I don't think that it is that complicated to record instant messages. All of my gchats get recorded. I'm sure they can figure out a way to make that work. Additionally, with each successive administration, its staffers will have come of age in an increasingly technologically advanced era. This administration represents the first that comes into the White House with facebooks, BlackBerrys, and the comforting familiarity of the internet rather than the daunting newness of the internet. In ten to twenty years, people of my generation will enter the White House as staffers in some new administration. I cannot vividly remember a time when computers weren't connected to the internet. If you told me to go work on a massive group project (say, saving the country) without Gmail and instant messaging, I would fall utterly flat on my face. 

While the preservation of tradition is an increasingly lost art in our modern society, technology is the one place where it is absolutely wrong to be traditional. When you talk about wanting to streamline the government bureaucracy, there is no better way to do it than with technology. And there is no better place to start than at the top.

No comments:

Post a Comment