Marty Walsh, one of Boston's two mayoral candidates, said in a forum on innovation last week that he is "not a high-tech person, personally." President Obama's botched rollout of HealthCare.gov and his subsequent I-didn't-know-how-bad-it-was public shrugs also speak of someone who, despite his image as America's first technology-savvy president, is equally in the dark about the complexities of massive product rollouts.
But can today's politicians still afford to profess their technological illiteracy, which some of them even wear as a badge of old-fashioned-values honor?
Just take a look at the ridiculousness of the health care website rollout. This is a site that, according to our president, is supposed to make buying health care as easy as buying a book on Amazon.com. The government is relying on technology to usher in the most important public benefit in a generation -- the cornerstone of this administration's agenda and legacy -- yet no one there seems to have a clue how to make this site work.
We live in an era where more and more interactions with our elected officials and government organizations happen through technology: donating money to campaigns, following candidates on Twitter, paying parking tickets through websites, getting text alerts about public safety matters, paying taxes or filing citizenship applications, and yes, even signing up for something as vitally critical as healthcare.
Technology is a critical economic driver, a vital educational tool, a key component of infrastructure and national defense and central part of the way that financial markets move and currencies,equities and commodities are traded. Most terrorism experts expect that the next major terrorist attack will not be in the form of bombing but in the form of a technology virus.
It's time our elected officials wake up and smell the silicon. What do you think?