Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Government Politics News

How Tech-Savvy Will the Next President Be? 715

CorinneI writes "We've got our candidates. We know their positions on the major issues of the day — healthcare, the Iraq war, the economy, yada, yada, yada. But Senators McCain and Obama will also have to be concerned with tech issues. Where do they stand on Net neutrality, patent protection, piracy, broadband, privacy, and H1B visas? Do their campaign positions match up with their voting records and public statements? Here's how they stack up on the big five tech issues of the day."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How Tech-Savvy Will the Next President Be?

Comments Filter:
  • by smitty97 ( 995791 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:16PM (#23669475)
    I think McCain has first-hand experience with a Babbage computer
  • lol mccain (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brian Gordon ( 987471 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:17PM (#23669479)

    McCain: Supports increased broadband access via competition rather than government regulation.
    This literally made me laugh out loud. I don't even know what to say.

    Also, don't forget that McCain inexplicably supports telecom immunity..
    • Re:lol mccain (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:20PM (#23669523) Journal

      Also, don't forget that McCain inexplicably supports telecom immunity..

      I'm sure a reasonably careful analysis of his bank records would render this a good deal more explicable.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:38PM (#23669811)
        I don't know why shit like this is considered insightful on slashdot.

        Here are his income tax returns for the last two years. [] Maybe you can do the analysis yourself and see if there's something that would support your wild and baseless accusation. You know, because claiming McCain is just trading votes for cash and being corrupt does require a bit of evidence and proof.

        I'm waiting...

        • by wizardforce ( 1005805 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @01:04PM (#23670251) Journal
          You're right, he did it of his own free will- that should scare you.
        • by KevinKnSC ( 744603 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @01:09PM (#23670345)
          Maybe we should look at campaign contributions [] instead. Hmm, notice any telecom companies accused of illegal domestic spying on his "top 5 contributors"?
        • by Jawnn ( 445279 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @01:14PM (#23670429)
          His personal income (as reflected in his tax returns) does not reflect campaign contributions. But then, if you had half a clue about such things, you wouldn't be defending Republicans who are the telecom industry's bought-and-paid-for toadies. The "bank records" might better be interpreted as those records that indicate who paid what to whom and when in exchange for what no-bid contracts, etc., but the point is valid, nonetheless.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by m.ducharme ( 1082683 )
          Because of course, all people who take bribes report them on their Income taxes...

          I don't know if McCain does or does not accept cash for votes, but I do know that if finding evidence of bribery were as easy as checking out income tax records, all the lobby groups in Washington would be out of business.
      • (Score:5, Informative)

        by skwang ( 174902 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @01:11PM (#23670367)

        I suspect the original poster is trying to imply an illegal link between the candidate and industry. I can't comment if one exists. But what I recommend is you go to Center for Responsive Politics [] which will tell you where the source of campaign contributions of all presidential candidates.

        The Web site aggregates company donations by industrial sector. Thus to see which candidate gets the most money from "Telephone Utilities" you can try clicking on this link: Telephone Utility Totals to Candidates [] As you can see Sen. McCain has received $345,945 from said utilities while Sen. Obama has received $203,546.

        Feel free to draw your own conclusions.

        N.B. I should note that the last election fund-raising report was due on 20-May-2008 and that was for donations received in April, so the information on this Web site is usually two months old.

        • (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 05, 2008 @02:51PM (#23672047)
          This is 100% misleading.

          All of Obama's money comes from individual donators. When you donate you are forced to include your employer, and are limited to $2300. So what you're seeing is the aggregate of all people that work for AT&T. Guess what? They're a big fucking company. That figure includes everyone from people on the board, to bottom level accountants and janitors.
  • What about the 2nd? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bluelip ( 123578 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:18PM (#23669501) Homepage Journal
    In my eyes, the most important issue is the preservation of the 2nd ammendment.
    • by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:45PM (#23669941)

      One, that's hardly a geek issue. Two, I've asked on slashdot a bunch of times, but never gotten an answer: Why is the 2nd amendment more important than the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 19th let alone them combined? Third, other than showing respect for the Constitution, why is the 2nd useful? In other words, why not overturn it (assuming you read the preamble to it in the manner the NRA prefers.)? Your handguns aren't really going to allow you to compete with the US military, and every idiot cannot be trusted with a tank, so any forced overthrow arguement is crap. And while I believe in guns for hunting and home protection, there are a lot of restrictions that you can place on weapons that people seem to think violate the 2nd amendement without getting close to either one of those.

      I'm really trying to figure out why anyone cares about this issue.

      • by Facetious ( 710885 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:52PM (#23670039) Journal

        Your handguns aren't really going to allow you to compete with the US military
        Hear, hear! Groups with small arms have never been a match for a modern mil... Oh, wait.
      • by Notquitecajun ( 1073646 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:55PM (#23670073)
        The general rationale is that the 2nd amendment is the ultimate protection of all the others. You have a decent agreement that we're not really going to overthrow the government with civilian-held firearms, but that entire scenario is a bit of a stretch. However, I CAN defend certain aspects of some of my freedoms with my guns.

        The other side of the argument is the bumper-sticker slogan "If guns are criminal, only criminals will have guns" which bears a certain amount of truth - criminals aren't going to disarm in America, and disarming those of us who are law-abiding only makes us more vulnerable to attacks on our life, liberty, and property.

        • by Sandbags ( 964742 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @02:33PM (#23671783) Journal
          Well, if you look at the statistics from Australia, Canada, and other countries who have enacted strict gun control laws, you'll see crime stays the same or even slightly declines, and in some rare cases, slightly increases. However, digging into the details of "armed robbery" you'll see that once the gun control came into play, although armed robbery stayed consistent, the percentage involving guns actually dropped dramatically, with the difference being replaced by knives and bats, etc.

          Deperaate people commit crimes, some of them with guns. Removing guns does NOT precipitate more deperate people, therefore, there is no logical support for increases in gun crime. Wether yopu have a gun or not in your house or business, you're still likely 1) to have other weapons at hand, 2) alarms or a hpne for 911 to call cops, who have guns, 3) won't be home when being robbed, and 4) won;t be killed by your robber (less than 1 % of roberies involve a victim being killed by the crook).

          What you WILL get, that is STRONGLY supported by statistics, is a sharp drop in sposes shooting each other, kids shooting people accidentally, suicides, and more. In fact, even where gun crime has increased by as much as 20%, the number of deaths from guns dropped as much as 300% at the same time, simply by limiting who can own a gun.

          Look into the numbers. There are links in my other posts, or simply use Google.

          This is not an argument, FACT: gun control saves an order of magnitude more lives than it places at risk.

          This is also not an arguement: It is NOT against the constitution for them to limit guns. The constitution clearly reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." It is clearly laid out not as a right to bear arms for all citizens, but as a MEANS to a WELL REGULATED MILITIA. In other words, if you are not PART OF a WELL REGULATED MILITIA, then you DO NOT have a right to bear arms.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) *

        Why is the 2nd amendment more important than the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 19th let alone them combined?

        Because the 2nd Amendment is the one that gives us the ability to throw the reset switch if all else fails. And yes, that's exactly what it's for; all the bullshit reasons about (government-controlled) militias, self-defense, and hunting is just that: bullshit. The guys who wrote the Constitution had just finished violently overthrowing their government, so they wanted to expli

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          The guys who wrote the Constitution had just finished violently overthrowing their government, so they wanted to explicitly reaffirm the right to do so again. Period

          Every armed resistence in America worthy of the name, including the American Revolution, required stealing munitions from the military; Exception: the Whiskey Rebellion which was beaten into the ground in about as much time as it took to march troops to the battlefield.

      • by oodaloop ( 1229816 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @01:29PM (#23670713)
        The whole purpose of the 2nd amendment is to ensure military-grade weapons (flint-lock muskets at the time) remain in the hands of ordinary citizens. Today, that would include a lot more than just hunting rifles. It may seem scary to have such powerful weapons in the hands of ordinary citizens, but to me the opposite is much scarier: a disarmed, helpless society unable to defend itself from its government. Much is made of the growing trend of government intrusion into our privacy, warrantless arrests, et al, using quotes like, "When they came for___, I said nothing." Well, when they come for you, what are you going to do?
  • by krog ( 25663 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:19PM (#23669509) Homepage
    I'd much rather have a President who surrounds himself with well-informed advisors, than a President who weighs his own opinions on specialized topics more heavily than a specialist's opinion. Leadership is delegation.
    • by Ambiguous Puzuma ( 1134017 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:26PM (#23669613)
      True, but surrounding yourself with well-informed advisors requires the ability to recognize someone that is well-informed. This is difficult to do without having some level of knowledge yourself.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MoodyLoner ( 76734 )
      Because that worked so well with the last guy.
    • I'd much rather have a President who surrounds himself with well-informed advisors, than a President who weighs his own opinions on specialized topics more heavily than a specialist's opinion. Leadership is delegation.
      I concur. While it is a priority to us (the technically savvy), we are a minority.

      I believe The Simpsons tackled this very subject in They Saved Lisa's Brain []--an episode in which Mensa gains control of Springfield. Horrible legislation ensues.

      The president should represent the average person of the United States of America. Someone who compiles Linux is not your average person.

      We should really pay attention to how they vote, who their delegate these issues to, who they listen to and--most importantly--how willing they are to bow to the companies for an extra buck.
      • by VeNoM0619 ( 1058216 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:32PM (#23669703)

        The president should represent the average person of the United States of America.
        So you're saying just pick someone off the street with poor knowledge of everything, someone who does repetitive physical labor day in and day out?

        If the president is to have so much power, shouldn't he be knowledgeable about what he has power over? I don't want some average Joe coding my software. A president should be someone "special", if he is to be elected, he should be the role model of the average person, not the average person himself.
      • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:59PM (#23670171)

        The president should represent the average person of the United States of America. Someone who compiles Linux is not your average person.

        Unfortunately, what Harry Truman said is true: people with median skills and intelligence are more likely to be elected than geniuses. The median voter is afraid of geniuses.

        However, this doesn't mean a person with average intelligence would make a better president than someone more intelligent. The ideal president would be intelligent, well informed, and have good advisors. After all, if the president isn't intelligent and well informed, how will he know which advice to follow?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bkr1_2k ( 237627 )
        The president should represent the average person of the United States of America. Someone who compiles Linux is not your average person.

        So you're saying GWB was a good representative?

        I'm being serious. If the President should represent the average person, I'd say Bush was a good candidate. I don't happen to think he has done this country any service, much less good service, but he does qualify as "average" in most aspects other than wealth.
      • by wytcld ( 179112 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @01:12PM (#23670373) Homepage
        Someone who "compiles Linux" is average. Just as average as someone who rebuilds their car's engine, or does their own carpentry, or grows their own garden, or .... Most Americans have a few things they have at least a good amateur's expertise in, if not professional qualifications. And some of us have even mastered the arcane "./compile;make;make install".
    • by Dark Kenshin ( 764678 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:27PM (#23669639) Journal
      I agree with your basis, but it does help if they have at least a working knowledge of the topic they are making decisions on. In short, a "Jack of all trades, Ace of none" style of president would be ideal. They could support their short comings with experts in the field, yet still understand it enough to make informed, logical decision on the matter.
    • This argument would be better if it wasn't one of the major arguments I heard repeatedly back in 2000 for George W. Bush.
    • by tji ( 74570 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:38PM (#23669797)
      That was the argument for why Bush was an acceptable President. "It doesn't matter that he has no foreign policy knowledge, is not intelligent, and cannot string two sentences together. As long as he has good advisors, everything will be fine."

      We see how that turned out.

      Having excellent advisors is an absolute requirement. It is necessary, but not sufficient, for a good presidency. You definitely need someone at the top who is able to digest all the inputs and provide the guidance and accountability.
    • by MacDork ( 560499 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:39PM (#23669815) Journal

      I'd much rather have a President who surrounds himself with well-informed advisors, than a President who weighs his own opinions on specialized topics more heavily than a specialist's opinion. Leadership is delegation.

      JFK's advisors didn't suggest putting a man on the moon. [] They were quite resistant to the idea. On the other hand, Iraq was a "slam dunk" according to Bush's advisors...

      How can you identify a "well informed" advisor if you have no knowledge on the subject yourself?

    • by Woundweavr ( 37873 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:48PM (#23669967)
      Well Obama is good friends with Lawrence Lessig.

      On the other hand, I think McCain grew up with Alan Turing's Dad so...

      I mean, is there really any doubt on which one is more "tech savvy"? If their ages don't make it completely obvious, look at Obama's website, his government transparency (available online), and his simple familiarity with the issues.

      A 47 year old recent Constitutional law professor (universities tend to have a couple uses for the inter-tubes) whose campaign uses the Internet as its central tool vs a 72 year old guy who has been in the Legislature since 640K was enough for anyone?
      • by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @01:47PM (#23671025) Journal
        If their ages don't make it completely obvious

        Spoken like a truly ignorant kid. Guys in their twenties come to me [] for advice on computers, kid. Can you write a battle tanks game in assembly and then hand-assemble it (without an assembler) and have it run, bug-free? I did.

        And there are guys twenty and thirty years my senior, now retired, who used hollerith cards in their programming and make me look ignorant about computers.

        You need to educate yourself. Your hatred of those with more experience than you limits your horizons and should be a great personal embarrassment to you.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 )
      These are not very difficult issues to understand.

      Is it fair to have different speeds for different sites based if they paid _your_ ISP for faster speed.

      How do we get faster internet connections to the rural comunites.

      Should software be patented if so should there be different rules.

      Is outsourcing tech workers best for America.

      The issues are really people and policy issue (stuff that a president should be able to make decisions on themselfs) It is not as much on the details like what routers they should use
    • I hear Bush gets his advice straight from Jesus... I would imagine that he would be informed, seeing as how he intelligently designed the universe -- but look where that's gotten us! /ducks.
  • by neokushan ( 932374 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:19PM (#23669511)
    Either one will be a lot more savvy in general than the current president. I bet both can even SPELL Technology.
  • by HalAtWork ( 926717 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:21PM (#23669527)
    I don't even think it's on their radar, and the sad part is that it is becoming a huge issue, especially with the stupid hacking war between various countries, and the amount of control corporations want over software and data. The candidates are a lot older and have to know about a lot more things, and they try to take in the greater picture. How can they deal with the minutia of details that involve this fledgling of a political and human rights issue? How can they know about the implications? Even a lot of people that are deep in the tech industry don't even care about a lot of things, mostly because they work for corporations that are trying to steer the industry towards gobbling up all rights so they can secure revenue streams.
  • summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by bornyesterday ( 888994 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:24PM (#23669587) Homepage
    Net neutrality:
    McCain - let the markets handle it
    Obama - legislate it

    Broadband Availability:
    McCain - increased access via competition
    Obama - re-define 'broadband', move toward universal service, increase availability at schools & libraries

    H1B visas:
    McCain - increase the number of them
    Obama - full immigration overhaul, produce more American-born tech workers, make workers less dependent on their employers

    Intellectual Property Protection:
    McCain - gov't handles blatant abuses, works against protectionism
    Obama - increase cooperation on international standards

    McCain - immunity for companies that cooperated with warrentless wiretapping
    Obama - expand the FTC to cooperate with international agencies to track cyber-criminals
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by porcupine8 ( 816071 )
      McCain is also in favor of redefining broadband.

      Overall, it's pretty predictable: The democrat wants more government regulation, the Republican wants less government involvement. Shockers all around. (Though the wiretapping issue is the one thing that's not so obvious.)

  • by DriedClexler ( 814907 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:25PM (#23669597)
    Without reading the article, I can guess it tracks this format pretty closely:

    Q: What would {Obama,McCain} do about $TECH_ISSUE?
    Obama: Emphasises coming up with solution that works for ALL Americans by making impossible tradeoff. Says soundbite taken from Lawrence Lessig.
    McCain: Emphasises coming up with solution that works for ALL Americans by making impossible tradeoff. Says soundbite taken from corporate lobbyist.

    Does that about sum it up?
    • by nickhart ( 1009937 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [trahkcin]> on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:40PM (#23669859) Homepage

      Does that about sum it up?

      Not quite. You forgot to add the vast sums of money to the equation.

      Obama []: $4,022,006 (TV/Movies/Music) + $3,060,630 (Computers/Internet) = $7,082,636

      McCain []: $636,046 (TV/Movies/Music) + $629,315 (Computers/Internet) = $1,265,361

      Gee, I wonder who's going to be listening harder to what the RIAA, telcos and other technology sector players have to say...

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by irenaeous ( 898337 )

        I found this interesting:

        "While 47 percent of what Obama raised last year came from donors who gave less than $200, those small contributors made up just 15 percent of Clinton's donor base. In January, when Obama swamped Clinton by raising $32 million, compared to her $13 million, the vast majority of his total -- $28 million -- came over the Internet."

        The quote is from a Washington Post Article []. I am not an Obama supporter, but on Tech issues, he is vastly superior to the other two. His answers in T

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 05, 2008 @01:25PM (#23670657)
        Obama: 264 M total raised
        McCain: 88 M total raised

        calculated from

        Obama : 1.5% (TV/Movies/Music) + 1.1% (Computers/Internet) = 2.6%
        McCain : 0.7% (TV/Movies/Music) + 0.7% (Computers/Internet) = 1.5%

        I think the percentages kinda make your FUD lose a little steam
      • by bartkusa ( 827611 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @03:17PM (#23672407) Homepage
        When you send in political donations, they have to take down who your employer is. That's how they calculate donations by industry.

        Realize, though, that not every donation is an attempt to curry favor. I donated a few hundred to Obama, and I develop a website for an online travel company, but that doesn't mean Obama is in the pocket of Big Travel or Big Internet. Similarly, if 1000 gas station attendants donate $20 to McCain, that will be logged as $20,000 coming from the oil industry, but don't tell me those attendants are buying influence.

        $7 million from the entertainment and computer industries sounds suspicious, but it's not like the RIAA just cut him a seven-figure check. Obama is an inspiring liberal (as opposed to Kerry in '04 and Gore in '00), and he has really strong support amongst Democrats with higher education. This translates to affluent Hollywood actors and Silicon Valley professionals donating and fund-raising on Obama's behalf.

        I'm not saying Obama is going to turn a blind eye to his financial backers; nobody is ignorant of where their support is coming from. But when both candidates are refusing money from federal lobbyists (I know Obama is, pretty sure McCain is) and taking it in small amounts from individual contributors, this kind of tallying isn't damning.

        Millions of people [] have donated to Barack's campaign, mostly in small denominations. How much more legit can hard-money donations from private individuals get? What, should only people who don't have employment be able to donate?

  • by Ukab the Great ( 87152 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:25PM (#23669601)
    How many blonde jokes involving computers would each candidate laugh at vs how many would they respond to with "What a coincidence--I do that, too".
  • by Shihar ( 153932 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:26PM (#23669625)
    This question makes no sense to me. How "tech savvy" will the president be? The internet is basically just a series of tubes. How hard could it to be to understand? What could possibly go wrong?
  • for whom "tech-savvy" isn't another term for "knows what order the crayons go back in the box".
  • by iXiXi ( 659985 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:35PM (#23669753)
    One knows that the big red button makes big boom boom! The other knows how to read Internet Polls. Guess which one is which.
  • Lessig (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 05, 2008 @12:35PM (#23669773)
    Well, Obamas people went directly to Lawrence Lessig for discussing tech policies. I think that says a lot.
  • Obama at Google (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Edward Kmett ( 123105 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @01:06PM (#23670285) Homepage
    Well, apparently Obama knows enough not to use a Bubble Sort: []

    Now, if he could just get some decent web developers. ;) []
  • by slashname3 ( 739398 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @01:16PM (#23670457)
    The issues listed are so far down the list they should not be a factor. The Federal Governments job is to provide security for the country, not dabble in things that should be left to the states to decide. To much power has been given to the Federal Government. Why should the Feds have anything to do with anyone having access to broadband?

    I think we are getting very close to the time when the government as it has become will need to be reset. Right now we have a two party system where we get pretty much the same no matter who is in power. They treat the population as a huge wallet that they extract money from. Then that money is paid to the lobbies and others that paid to get the officials elected. Sure there is some it spent to placate the masses, but bread and circuses only last so long.

    The problem is we have no one to blame but ourselves. We created a system that has systematically evolved politicians into the sub-species that they have become. They are able to spew sound bites without ever doing anything concrete and are able to promise everyone exactly what they want to hear. At this point we are unable to elect someone that has the actual skills that are needed to lead this country the way it should be led. Once in power they will tax and spend just like they always have no matter who is in power.

    Personally I think our only hope at the moment is to keep any single party from getting both congress and the White House at the same time. At least when they are held by different parties it prevents massive sweeping changes from being enacted. If a single party does control everything then it will be a sign that things are going to get really bad. There will be no stopping them from doing whatever they hell they want.

    Regardless get ready for $10.00 a gallon gasoline and rampant inflation over the next four years. And I suspect we will start to see massive famines across the world and possibly in this country. And the endless debate that the other party caused all this.
  • Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MSTCrow5429 ( 642744 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @01:31PM (#23670755)
    Why does it matter how familiar they are with "tech" issues? The position of President is an executive position. His job is to execute the laws that he deems Constitutional, not dabble in legislation. That anyone is asking such questions speaks to the fact that the US is in a state of prolonged decline, with a war of all against all.
  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @04:43PM (#23673895) Homepage Journal
    And is the transdimensional messiah. He has no need of puny human devices like 'technology'.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson