We're obsessed. Not just with our own Blackberries -- we're also obsessed with Blackberry One, the President's Blackberry. We seem to care more about whether or not President Obama keeps his Blackberry than whether or not he quits smoking.
The Blackberry is a communication prosthetic and our new President, throughout his campaign and continuing now, has shown himself to be a Great Communicator. The Blackberry is a symbol of technological sophistication. It says, "I use the latest tools available for anytime, anywhere, any place access to information." President Obama's campaign effectively used a wide range of technologies to reach the American people, to keep its volunteers connected and up to date, and to create a sense of community and a spirit of activism.
When I see Obama using his Blackberry, the message I get is, "I'm on the job. Right now. And I'm using today's tools."
Are we concerned about security issues? Is it the legal issues -- the Freedom of Information Act and the Presidential Records Act? These issues can be addressed through technology advances and protocols.
So what are we worried about? For some of us, using a Blackberry helps us stay on top of things at the expense of getting to the bottom of things. It becomes a distraction and an addiction -- instead of taking a moment to reflect, we hit the Blackberry for an email or SMS fix.
Peter, a retired Fortune 500 CEO, told me, "I gave up my Blackberry when I became CEO. I needed to trust my assistant to screen and forward things to me. I was afraid that if I didn't do that, I wouldn't have time to reflect, to consider and plan for the future of the company. There would have been a much greater risk of getting consumed by the day to day."
I've written about continuous partial attention and email apnea. I've studied what happens to our brains and bodies "on technology." I've also witnessed our cool, calm, and collected, thoughtful, basketball-playing, family guy, looks us in the eye, forty-fourth President. He loves his Blackberry and he appears to use it in a disciplined and thoughtful way. He breathes. He gets to the bottom of things. He reflects. I have a hunch he even puts it away when he sits down to dinner with his family.
We have a twenty-first century President using twenty-first century technology. Could we all learn something from the way Obama uses his Blackberry?
Eileen Gunn, an author and blogger, when asked whether Obama should keep his Blackberry, answered with a smile, "Let's see how it goes."
What do you think?