Obama staffers ignorant of tech security, public records law

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on January 23, 2009

There's more than one way to write a story. Here's how the Washington Post wrote one story yesterday.

Staff Finds White House in the Technological Dark Ages

By Anne E. Kornblut

Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, January 22, 2009; Page A01

If the Obama campaign represented a sleek, new iPhone kind of future, the first day of the Obama administration looked more like the rotary-dial past.

Two years after launching the most technologically savvy presidential campaign in history, Obama officials ran smack into the constraints of the federal bureaucracy yesterday, encountering a jumble of disconnected phone lines, old computer software, and security regulations forbidding outside e-mail accounts.

What does that mean in 21st-century terms? No Facebook to communicate with supporters. No outside e-mail log-ins. No instant messaging. Hard adjustments for a staff that helped sweep Obama to power through, among other things, relentless online social networking.

The headline and opening paragraphs paint the outgoing administration as technologically backward and inept. Obama's administration is a victim of the Bush regime, although not in the malicious manner that greeted Bush 43 eight years ago when keyboards were found missing the "W" key and copier paper was pre-printed with pornographic images. The bias here isn't exceedingly overt, but those who read only the headline and the first few graphs they'll come away from the story thinking that this is something Bush did to Obama, rather than a simple reflection of how the executive branch works.

Let's try this:

Obama staff struggles to adjust from campaign mode to governing

By Matthew T. Hoy

Washington Post Staff Writer (not a chance)

Thursday, January 22, 2009; Page A01

For a campaign that was able to navigate the Internet like a high-performance speedboat, yesterday they found the ship of state much harder to handle.

President Barack Obama, in his inaugural address, said it didn't matter what size the government was, but only that it worked.

As staffers arrived on their first day at the White House, they found that the government doesn't work quite as well as the private sector. Disconnected phone lines, PCs instead of Macs, old computer software and security and Freedom of Information Act restrictions on outside e-mail addresses all frustrated tech-savvy staffers.

Yeah, my article has an undercurrent of bias too. But it's the kind of bias you don't see too often -- the conservative kind.

On a related note: I was amused by this complaint from the article.

The team members, accustomed to working on Macintoshes, found computers outfitted with six-year-old versions of Microsoft software.

Six-year-old Microsoft software? That would be Windows XP. They should thank Bush for not upgrading the machines to Vista.


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January 2009



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