Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Obama Presidency and Technology

I ran across two articles this morning about Obama, his presidency and technology. Given the unprecedented way the Obama campaign utilized technology, particularly cell phones and the internet, I've been interested to see if they can maintain their innovative techniques once Obama officially became president. It seems it may be more difficult for them than anyone expected. The first article, "New Staff find White House in Tech Dark Ages," focuses on how out-dated the White House is in terms of technology. Given how slowly the federal government moves, I have to say I wasn't surprised to learn this. I am curious to see how the new administration adapts to these challenges; will these technology hurdles alienate the young people and technofiles that responded so positively to the campaign? The second, "President Obama gets to keep is Blackberry," interests me more in terms of archival research than anything else. I get all the security concerns and agree they are more than valid, but I can't believe these can't be addressed. My interest is in how will any messages Obama sends via email, texts, etc. be recorded for the historical record? Again, this does seem fairly easy to accomplish, but it is a concern, nonetheless. This interest extends to my concern about how all the new forms of technology will affect our ability to perform archival research in the next 100 years.

5 comments:

Sarah said...

This kind of thing has led to a new profession--digital archivist. The work with libraries to determine the best way to archive materials, including already-digital information as well as digitized paper archives. Like paper archivists, they have to worry about the physical condition of their materials, but they also have to be concerned about advancing technology and with converting their digital archives to new formats before the old formats are so outdated that they are unusable.

M said...

I know that this profession exists, but it still doesn't alleviate my concern about the existence of digital archives. The position of a digital archivist is dependent on people saving their digital communications. My concern is that people don't save their emails--i.e., we have Edith Wharton's letters to Henry James, but will we have Toni Morrison's emails to Alice Walker? Very few people that I know print off emails, and although I know many people who save their emails, the life of an email is only as long, it seems to me, the computer. Do many people attempt to save their emails off of one hard drive when they purchase a new computer? B/c of the various acts demanding that all things coming out of the White House be preserved, I know that most everything that Obama writes will somehow be saved, but who can say the same for other people?

The Roof Almighty said...

You assume, of course, that many/most people preserve their corresp. or drafts.

Even before I saved over older files, I took grim satisfaction in balling and basketing early drafts of works in progress.

M said...

You are the reason, Roof, that archivists have heart attacks.

The Roof Almighty said...

and environmentalists, and economists, and time travelers, and physicians, and the I.B.T. Committee.

I'm not here to make friends, I'm here to WIN!