What were they doing?

There’s been quite an evolution in one Office lately.

One member of the White House new-media team came to work on Tuesday, right after the swearing-in ceremony, only to discover that it was impossible to know which programs could be updated, or even which computers could be used for which purposes. The team members, accustomed to working on Macintoshes, found computers outfitted with six-year-old versions of Microsoft software. Laptops were scarce, assigned to only a few people in the West Wing. The team was left struggling to put closed captions on online videos.

Do you have to be sooooo techno-fluent? Maybe not. Should you surround yourself with people who are?  Great leaders show they have the tendency to seemingly accomplish great acts alone.  Often they rely on many individuals who have extreme proficiencies in areas they do not. Do you have to know how to do everything -probably not.

Should you understand the conversation about technology? Yes, it helps you participate in a meaningful way.  This is why we have to ensure access for populations that are under-served.

And …[Obama Staff]…officials in the press office were prepared: In addition to having their own cellphones, they set up Gmail accounts, with approval from the White House counsel, so they could send information in more than one way.

What’s the real aversion to using technology strategically?  What we may find is not that we dislike technology if we really think about it. If we think about who we can benefit by sharing information, this changes where we feel the resistance.  We may feel it less internally; we may find that we are willing to endure more to help others.

It may be that some of us are far more discerning and critical of sub-par technologies.

All of us are no doubt using many successful technologies in our every day lives (and yes, I absolutely believe a book is a piece of technology so successful that very few people think about how successful it is).

Use discernment advantageously.  Remind those of us who adopt too early and heap platitudes upon Pownce, “Hey, have you thought about why it won’t work?” Ah! So much better than, “I don’t get it.”

This does not abdicate personal responsibility; instead it requires our participation and collaboration.

Use your abilities to become part of the conversation; do not let your abilities become stagnant allowing yourself to be removed from the conversation.

We think, “Should the most powerful office in the world be among the technologically most proficient?” Watch the evolution we all must go through:


We must use the new tools; we must be mindful of tradition.  We think, “If I’m not good at it, who is?” We think, “who will this benefit?”  What else do we think?


7 thoughts on “What were they doing?”

  1. Love how they say “six year old MS software” — makes it sound ancient. Not so much if they’d just said “Office 2003,” which isn’t exactly archaic, and in fact many individuals and workplaces (including my own) chose to retain over its successor, even to the point of actively removing the successor to go back to what they considered the superior product. But that’s the way to do it in journalism.

  2. Technology is great when it works. When it breaks, how do you recover? All too often in government settings, software is a couple versions back not from being lacking but because it is most easily supported and secured. There are not perfect computer programs out there so it is reasonable to be a few versions back. This is merely one reason, procurement cycles often are far more of a factor.

    What may be seen as stagnation is really bureaucracy in action. Even agencies like NASA have to cope with three year lifetime procurement cycles for computer hardware. Any faster of a procurement cycle certainly would not be environmentally friendly let alone fiscally sound.

  3. Excellent point Addrianne -the article does show less than neutral language. I wonder if the http://www.poynter.org/ has done any research on what seems to be a rising trend of sensationalistic and biased news reporting. Are they trying to compete with, all the reality shows/news out there?

  4. I don’t know Stephen; I see your point. At the same time planned obsolescence, meaning Dell, HP, NASA’s contractors, etc, all bet on getting another contract because of the built in obsolescence. Hardware and software both have them. HP, for example, puts their laptop life cycle around 15-18 months -that’s not long. I wonder if that’s the reason we feel techno-stress too. Upgrade, upgrade, upgrade is what I’m not advocating for.

    I watch the rise of DIY culture, again. People are refusing to “shuck it” and require their products to have more life. Should not the government require the same?

    Several friends run computers averaging over 5 years -with either Vista or their current choice of Linux distro. So, I’d say it could be done. Currency and dependability are not mutually exclusive.

    We could require a much higher degree of reliability and extendability. In fact, governments should. (I’d be working on a 6 year old Mac if it didn’t get stolen. I had only re-booted that Mac 3 times! Oh I miss it. :)

    Sun: they’ve practically evolved their sold hardware and software to the point that you pay for their expertise and on-demand service.

    They’ve realized, it’s not so much the technological products, because other firms (China before long I bet) are competing with them in price and quality, but their service and knowledge that sets them apart.

  5. 6 year old ms software? Heck, I personally as well as the library I work for run _9_ year old ms software by choice: windows xp. Since it is the best non beta operating system available from that company. :P

  6. Mike,
    Agreed: XP’s solid.

    What the reporter failed to articulate, (perhaps as it’s not the best wrote piece), is the poorly maintained state of software and hardware encountered there. Sounds like this is not the case for the systems you maintain.

    I completely agree that many old hardware systems and software systems can function if properly maintained. Given my choice, I’ll be running XP for a long time. There isn’t something I’ve found that I cannot run on XP, yet.

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