Are clueless politicians holding back IT?

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Politicians are notoriously clueless when it comes to technology. Indeed, a Parliament House staffer once told me that it’s impossible to overstate their level of ignorance. But isn’t it time they caught up with the rest of us?

Last year I wrote about this in the business context, “I don’t understand computers” is not an excuse.

If you own or manage a business that handles information (and which business doesn’t?) then you must understand computers and the Internet. If you don’t, you’re incompetent. Yes, that’s right, you heard me. Incompetent…

In short, you don’t need to know the technology itself, but you do need to know its implications for your business.

Australia’s had a Goods and Services Tax since 2000. If you waved your hand and said, “Oh, I don’t understand GST,” your shareholders would have every right to sack you for incompetence.

Yesterday I wrote about this in the political context for, Are clueless politicians holding IT back?, and as in my business-focussed piece I suggested a checklist for what I reckon they should know.

What do you think? Am I being too harsh? Or am I right in using the word “incompetent” here?

“I’ll take care of that, Prime Minister”

Most politicians, and especially Ministers, have no clue about teh Internets. An article from The Guardian explains why, at least in relation to former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

As prime minister, Tony Blair was shielded from the bewildering speed of technological change. Everything was done for him. So in 10 years he never learned how to send a text message. Finally he did. [Alastair] Campbell [Blair’s director of communications] reported: “I have had two from him. The first was the single word ‘are’. The second read: ‘this is amazing you can do words and everything’.”

Thanks to Memex 1.1 for the pointer.