What does a Grocery Store scanner have to do with a PC?

I have a good amount of respect for Jeremiah Owyang. He’s an analyst at Forrester who has done some good work on social media.

On the other hand, why he isn’t well-informed enough to avoid asking really, really stupid questions makes me question whether I should take him seriously as an authority on technology, or at least makes me think he should avoid politics. He asks:

  • Is knowing how to use a computer and use the internet a job requirement?
  • Does it impact a leaders ability to manage the country and impact the world?
  • Does it influence your vote, if so, why?
  • What do you expect from your leaders? CEO? President?
  • Can we please stop asking these overused, over-parsed TV talking head questions that avoid the real issue?

    The question should be about whether or not a leader is familiar with how ordinary Americans live. This means more than being able to send an email. It means being able to drive, understand traffic, and fill a gas tank. It’s going shopping for groceries and seeing the prices on the scanner. Remember George H.W. Bush in 1992, when he was so amazed at the barcode reader? That cost him points.

    Both candidates for President are U.S. Senators with highly competent staffs that handle many daily activities that ordinary Americans have to do themselves, simply because of the demands of the job. They don’t have time to do many of the things that we do. Senators are highly micromanaged. Their days are scheduled and organized by campaign staff and office staff. As I have written before, elected officials have two jobs: The job they have, and keeping the job they have (or running for higher office).

    I’m tired of hearing about who is more “authentic.” I want to know what they know about how things happen. You know what would be a great campaign stunt for either Senator? Give your Assistant, Chief of Staff, Legislative Director, etc a few days off. Come in early, get a copy of your schedule, find out what you have to do, and do it. No handlers. The only people who are allowed to work in the office for that week are the ones who you do not receive briefings, assistance or advice from directly.

    How well could you keep up on the issues? What tools would you use? Would you become a wizard with your Outlook calendar? How would you research an issue? How would you get around?

    In other words, how would you live if you were us?

    You cannot solve the problem unless you know and understand the problem.

    (here’s an example of doing this well: Michael Bloomberg takes the subway to work. the man is worth billions, and he’s a straphanger. you think the subway gets the attention it needs? I bet it does.)