Biting the Hand that Feeds, Obama Calls Social Media Media A Distraction

9 May, 2010

It is ironic to read that US President Obama said at Hampton University, Virginia,”information has become a distraction that is putting new pressures on the U.S.A. and “democracy.” ”

I do not know who advised Obama to say these words but Social Media has played a major role in Obama’s Presidential campaign success bringing him 10s of millions USD of donations to least say.( Full videos for THOMAS GENSEMER Obama’s Online Campaign Manager and ArabCrunch Interview at the end of this post)

According to MacDailyNews Obama said “With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations, — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation.”

How does information becomes a distraction? When over the Internet people control what they view and when to view? When social media is shifting the power from big corporate media into the average guy me you and anyone via things like Twitter, Blogs, facebook, Flicker and Youtube. This is creating “democratic” forms that is not controlled by anyone and ranked and filtered by the mass.

It is dangerous to read about these views from the president of the most powerful country in the world which also controls the Internet, affecting not only US users but users around the world. It also brings a fear of unbalanced US government decisions that might add censorship and control over the free flow of information. This brings to mind the SourceForge US government case against around 170 million innocent people in Syria, N.Korea, Cuba, Sudan and Iran.

Doing so will not only be a backward step for free media and the right of every human to know the truth and write code freely, but a major step that will stifle innovation and social media. Lets not forget  social media brought Obama to the door step of the white house and created 10s of thousands of jobs in USA.

The iPad will turn industries upside down, so does it make sense that obama just held a summit on entrepreneurship and innovation, and yet is now attacking the very company named the most innovative company for the 6 consecutive year (Apple if you do not know.)

Obama, social media saved lives and brought you to power, so please respect it.

# Post Edited for Clarification.









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  1. Rias A. Sherzad  |  May 9th, 2010 at 10:34 PM #

    He’s not talking about Social Media but about the form of distracting information coming from devices such as iPods, the XBox and the Playstation. He doesn’t see any value in them as they don’t empower the youth but distracts them with their entertainment aspect. He goes on to speak about the risk of being less educated than foreign workers and urges the listeners of his speech to realize that education is a tool to fortify them and strengthen democracy.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hcoyG-Ck3-VwZB7fqpUFXbffoObg

    So there is nothing wrong about that – he’s right about what he says and I think you might have misunderstood the point of his speech.

  2. Gaith Saqer  |  May 9th, 2010 at 10:43 PM #

    “You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank all that high on the truth meter,” the AFP reports Obama saying during a talk at Hampton University in Virginia.

    the bombardment coming from social media?

    AFP: He bemoaned the fact that “some of the craziest claims can quickly claim traction,” in the clamor of certain blogs and talk radio outlets.

    Blogs are social media right?

  3. Rias A. Sherzad  |  May 9th, 2010 at 11:17 PM #

    Yes, he is telling his students to get a good education so they’re able to cope with what’s coming in the next years. He is asking them to learn how to distinguish real information from crazy claims, meaning: from untrue claims. Obama wants the students to understand that those developments can’t be stopped but the students need to learn how to tackle them. The more media there is the more crazy claims and untrue information will come up as well and education is the key to handling them.

    So again, he’s only telling the students what’s true. The development of the media world (among them: information overload, media using information as a political horse race etc.) have brought huge challenges with them and they can only be solved through proper education.
    Read the article I linked to in my previous comment, it’s all said in there.

  4. fatin khwarizmi  |  May 9th, 2010 at 11:49 PM #

    1–HAMPTON, Virginia — US President Barack Obama lamented Sunday that in the iPad and Xbox era, information had become a diversion that was imposing new strains on democracy, in his latest critique of modern media.

    2–You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments

    3–He bemoaned the fact that “some of the craziest claims can quickly claim traction,” in the clamor of certain blogs and talk radio outlets.

    1– the world “modern media”
    2– ” ” ” “24/7 media environment that bombards”
    3– ” ” ” “blogs and talk radio outlets”

    i read your link carefully ,i think there is no dual meaning for the word “Media ”
    whatever it is , radio,blogs, tv & so !!! i think that is clear & GAITH did not misunderstood the points .

    this is a definition for social media for the persons who does not yet know :

    *Social media are works of user-created video, audio, text or multimedia that are published and shared in a social environment, such as a blog …

    *Any website or web service that utilizes a ‘social’ or ‘Web 2.0′ philosophy. This includes blogs, social networks, social news .

    *Any website or web service that utilizes a ‘social’ or ‘Web 2.0′ philosophy. This includes blogs, social networks, social news .

    go to Google type ” define social media” you ll get a huge list !

    thank you

  5. Rias A. Sherzad  |  May 10th, 2010 at 12:04 AM #

    Fatin,

    You also need to put his words into context as listing them one by one the way you did it decouples them from their meaning in relation to the remaining text.

    This is the basics you learn in communication classes and even at school when analyzing media text and speeches – see the context. Even in linguistics “context” has brought huge advancements to the understanding of a language and nowadays you can’t and shouldn’t comment on a text without putting it into the context of its writer/speaker, the environment, the time and the audience and other factors.

    He is not criticizing all of social media at all. He is talking about media entities, such as blogs that publish news that don’t always tell the truth. He is not saying that *all* blogs are bad or that social media is bad. In fact he is not even mentioning the word “social media” and he is not even generalizing anything.
    He is telling his audience that the media environment has changed into something that enables anyone to publish news, be it via his blog or a talk radio outlet and that this is bombarding people with information.
    Obama tells the students that their education will teach them how to distinguish between true and false claims and information.
    He is also specifically mentioning the term “political horse race”, meaning that the fact that anyone can publish information has lead to anyone being able to publish true or false information about politicians as well.

    I hope I made it clear this time. If not then feel free to respond to my claims without repeating your previous listing of statements that were drawn out of context.

    Thanks!

  6. fatin khwarizmi  |  May 10th, 2010 at 12:55 AM #

    first the context is clear , the clauses means what can mean ! if i did give non complete sentences, just to show the reader about which paragraph i m talking about, people are cleaver enough , if interested to the topic they can go to your link and read it carefully !
    second there is a contradiction with your saying –>(He is telling his audience that the media environment has changed into something that enables anyone to publish news, be it via his blog or a talk radio outlet and that this is bombarding people with information.)
    third, i did not say he was criticizing ALL SOCIAL MEDIA, pls, go back to my first comment to be sure , he said some blogs & so, i will not repeat what i did mentioned above but the word SOME BLOGS is undefined it can be any kind that does not satisfy his own educational test & can be for the other a perfect source ,for example, not every body is fan of twitter or face book or whatever but so many are addict to it , did you get what i mean brother Rias, it is a view point, every individual can see it from its his own corner .

    thanks

  7. Gaith Saqer  |  May 10th, 2010 at 8:01 AM #

    Thank you fatin and great answers to add Obama said:
    ” ‘With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations, — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation,’ Obama said.”

    how can he criticize something he does know how it works?
    he can not use an iPad? which is made for dummies?
    maybe he is still using IE 5.5 lol

  8. Anonymous  |  May 10th, 2010 at 10:31 AM #

    I agree with what Obama said. I find a lot of emails I read distracting from what I have to get on with on a day to day basis. The biggest annoyance at the moment is the facebook based games that update me on how my friends are progressing with farmville or mafia wars. Its time to get on with the real stuff, start a farm or become a mafia boss, why waste time in fantasy?

  9. Rias A. Sherzad  |  May 10th, 2010 at 10:51 AM #

    Bro Fatin & Gaith,

    I’m afraid we won’t agree here and as everyone’s entitled to his own opinion on how to read a text I guess we’ll leave it at that ;-)

    Salam
    Rias

  10. anonymos  |  May 10th, 2010 at 11:56 AM #

    I am afraid Gaith you completely took this out of context. You are starting to sound like fox news now. Go back to your roots.

  11. fatin khwarizmi  |  May 10th, 2010 at 1:29 PM #

    dear anonymos ,what ever who you are & what you do & where you leave ,you mentioned this:(farmville or mafia wars) , i personally in facebook for almost 5 month i did not know that just now while reading your comment , are you playing this such fantasy things ??!! why you didn’t mention the cultural & technological activities?! H H sheikh Mohammed is a member in face book & other big cultural personalities ,are they playing farmville & mafia war there ?!
    you are comparing fox news to GAITH , i m wondering why?! & you are just an anonymos , come on say something logical Mr or Mrs anonymos !
    thanks

  12. Craig  |  May 10th, 2010 at 4:48 PM #

    In part, he’s talking about this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signal-to-noise_ratio

    Allowing millions or even billions of people to use the exact same tools to get their message out seems like a great idea, but it creates the illusion that all those opinions carry the same weight. Which is obviously untrue. Some opinions are more valuable and more useful than others, and on the internet it can be very difficult to tell the difference. When you factor in the tendency of young people to automatically assume that the most radical and most anti-establishment commentators are in the right, it can become a big problem.

    Note, I’m only talking about the US. Y’all foreigners are on your own :p

  13. Rias A. Sherzad  |  May 10th, 2010 at 5:11 PM #

    Craig – thanks, yes the same applies to our people as well.
    And as for “y’all foreigners”: don’t forget the context – here on the site you’re the foreigner and not us ;-)

    Since we’re very communicative and political our people are much more likely to express their opinion once they discover the world of blogs and free broadcasting. In addition to that since our people are not used to distinguishing real from fake content they’re also more likely to fall for conspiracy theories and “untrue” information.

    Fatin, Gaith, I know you guys don’t speak German but Germany’s well-known “Spiegel Online” magazine has also commented on Obama’s speech, with the same arguments as I did yesterday:
    http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/web/0,1518,693958,00.html

  14. fatin khwarizmi  |  May 10th, 2010 at 6:27 PM #

    i m really busy right now , i ll come back for an ample discussion specially mathematics is my specialty!
    O ooooo! Rias careful , an other mistake ! who told you that i m not speaking German ?! again don’t judge without being sure brother ! i f you have the same link in Spanish or frensh too or even in Arabic ,never mind i m ready for it , my opinion will not change what ever the language ! ((*__*))
    thanks

  15. wordscolliding  |  May 10th, 2010 at 7:32 PM #

    Obama is wrong! Anything and everything a 14-year-old can post on Facebook should be absorbed and treated as absolute truth. Also, I am from the Nigerian Chamber Of Commerce And Industry and request your assistance to transfer the sum of $47,500,000.00 into your accounts. The above sum resulted from an over-invoiced contract, executed, commissioned and paid for about five years ago by a foreign contractor…

  16. Muhanad Omar  |  May 10th, 2010 at 10:18 PM #

    Hi Ghaith, how you been? Nice post you have here. I strongly agree with the statement you made in one of your comments about Obama criticizing things he’s never used. That’s just idiotic to do :)

    With that said however, I’ve read Obama’s speech and to me it doesn’t seem like he’s directly attacking social media. In my opinion, it seems like he’s trying to send a message to the students that they should learn how to *filter* true and untrue (or better yet, useful and useless) information generated from applications like twitter, Facebook, blogs, and the likes. With all these mediums of communication available to us today, some can easily become a distraction.

    Anyone can create a blog and post their own opinions on it, which is a *great* thing, but as an educated individual you should be able to recognize which posts/articles have value and which are complete nonsense. For instance, I was going through my Facebook news feed (where I clicked through to this article) and found a similar article to this which was entitled “Obama not an Apple fan”. Now, while the title is catchy, it doesn’t necessarily hold any truth just because Obama made the statement about iPods and iPads being distractive… wouldn’t you agree? I completely hate Windows Mobile (not Windows Phone), but I certainly don’t hate Microsoft because of it. Get what I mean? ;)

    Anyway, I don’t want to make this post any longer than it should be. In conclusion, I agree with Obama’s message that people should learn how to better filter content based on value, but I also agree that he could have sent that message in a better way :)

    @wordscolliding – great way to add a funny twist to this :)
    @Rias – I believe we’re trying to say the same thing here :)
    @fatin – Opinions are a great thing to have. Stay true to yours :)
    @Craig – Those are great points you made!

  17. fatin khwarizmi  |  May 11th, 2010 at 7:10 PM #

    ok master Muhanad ! stop teasing each other ! hehe, in the end , it was really an aimed discussion ! ((*__*))

  18. Jay_C  |  June 29th, 2010 at 3:19 PM #

    Rias A. Sherzad: “He’s not talking about Social Media but about the form of distracting information coming from devices such as iPods, the XBox and the Playstation”

    Yeah, so you mean the campaign ads his campaign paid to have embedded into platsation / xbox games?

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE49EAGL20081015

    “TARGETED AUDIENCE

    Obama’s video game ads are targeted at a more finely targeted group of potential voters.

    The in-game ads are delivered to players through 18 games, ranging from “Guitar Hero 3″ and “The Incredible Hulk” to sports titles like “NASCAR 09,” “NBA Live 08″ and “NFL Tour.”

  19. “Israeli” Prime Minister @Netanyahu Joins Twitter & YouTube, Seems Not Knowing His Way Around! - ArabCrunch  |  August 31st, 2010 at 4:54 PM #

    [...] the steps by many politicians from around the world  and the region like Obama, Queen Rania, El Baradi or Hamas, “Israeli” Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu has [...]

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