Recently Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. took to the House floor to discuss one of the major causes of unemployment, the iPad. He made claims that the device almost single handedly caused the demise of newspaper industry, college textbook manufacturing and the Borders bookstore chain.
"A few short weeks ago I came to the House floor after having purchased an iPad and said that I happened to believe, Mr. Speaker, that at some point in time this new device, which is now probably responsible for eliminating thousands of American jobs. Now Borders is closing stores because, why do you need to go to Borders anymore? Why do you need to go to Barnes & Noble? Buy an iPad and download your newspaper, download your book, download your magazine."
Now while we all know that the print publishing industry has been struggling as more users flock to the real-time power of the Internet; but that is more to do with the lack of willingness to evolve than the creation of one device. There are examples of print media companies who have successfully evolved their businesses to satisfy the needs of the digital world on the Internet and on mobile devices like the iPad. The New York Times and Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine are two that have been talked about recently.
Rep. Jesse went on to discuss how colleges like Chicago State University are planning to replace textbooks with iPads over the next 4 years and how many publishing jobs are lost. And lastly how the ability to download books has forced chains like Borders to close.
In a normal case you would assume that Rep. Jackson is out of touch with digital technology. I even decided to write a digital primer for him to give him credible information on the topic. But, sadly, it's not that simple. Not only does he know about the devices, he actually was promoting them to the same forum where he was making these remarks! With iPad and Kindle in hand he praised their merits.
"Let me be clear about a few things," Jackson said, brandishing both an Apple iPad and an Amazon Kindle on the House floor. "These devices are revolutionizing our country -- and they will fundamentally alter how we will educate our children."
My biggest area of concern here is that he is in a position where people may actually pay attention to him. That someone who had finally decided to buy a device like this and expose themselves to benefits of wireless access may now decide not to. When minorities still lag behind in the race to take advantage to what the Internet has to offer, we can't afford this type of misinformation when the need for digital parity is so important.
So my hope is that people realize that he is mistaken on this one and continue to explore the benefits that devices like the Ipad and Kindle bring us. I also hope that someone on Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s staff reads my primer on newsone and gets it to him. You can see the video of his speech here.