Obama and the Blackberry

I've been increasingly intrigued by the Obama v. Blackberry drama of late. Specifically, I keep finding myself surprised at how the story is often reported--as a gossip piece. CNN offers the most egregious example to date:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Before he ran for president Barack Obama quit smoking. Now that he's won the job, he may have to break another addiction: Checking his BlackBerry for e-mail.
The thing is that Obama's reliance on technology to help him do his job really doesn't compare to a smoking addiction. In any meaningful way. And the mindset that compels one to make such a ridiculous comparison is probably the exact same mindset that is preventing the Secret Service etc from finding an adequate solution to this problem. Or as Bill Brenner says in Computerworld:
First, Obama's e-mail correspondence could easily be preserved for the historic record. Second, his BlackBerry communications could easily be encrypted. Third, whether you voted for him or not, it's not unreasonable to expect that Obama has and will use extreme caution in the messages he chooses to send. It's hard to believe any president would be stupid enough to send classified national security data out from his smart phone. Never say never, but Obama seems smart enough to know better.

If the national security apparatus harbors any worry about not being able to properly secure such devices, the answer is for it to find ways to improve that security, not deprive the president of a useful communication tool.
Obama doesn't need cigarettes (and would do much better without them), but he needs functional information systems to get his job done. And if the Blackberry isn't a good solution technologically-speaking, that's fine. They should find a better one. But the only way they're going to be motivated to do so is if they recognize that, here in the 21st century, smoke signals are out and electronic communication is in. It's a sign of the times.

Nothing New byslag at 9:46 PM

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