Story 2014-05-02 3JR Leaders and their phones

Leaders and their phones

Anonymous Coward
in mobile on (#3JR)
story imageGone are the days of presidents with a rotary dial " Big Red Phone " on their desk over which they can quickly negotiate to avoid nuclear Armageddon ( that phone was a myth , by the way). These days, phones are mobile, and though some world leaders carry a cellphone, not every world leader has the same appreciation for tech .

Barack Obama's love for his Blackberry is well documented, and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even found herself the subject of a meme, " Texts from Hillary ." But Benjamin Netanyahu has no love for the culture of cellphones and picture sharing , exclaiming, "I'm the only one here without all these electronic devices, I'm a free man, and you all are slaves!"

Lastly, although the hermetically-sealed North Korea has until recently been mostly devoid of Internet and cellphone tech, Kim Jong Un is preparing a state-sponsored cellphone for the North Korean people , that runs a severely locked down version of Android.

Do world leaders - or any kind of leaders - need a cellphone in their pocket? Is it a liability or a way to stay connected? Is it time for the politically powerful to get with the modern age? Or should they have assistants at their side who do that for them? And of course, the most important question: Android, Blackberry, iOS, or something else ? :)
Reply 8 comments

Record With Your Eyes (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-02 15:28 (#1AV)

First off, kudos to the editor for turning this into a meatier post.

It'd be easy to write off Netanyahu's outburst as the curmudgeonly grousing of an older man who doesn't get modern technology, but perhaps there's some truth in what he said. The reaction, in particular, to the statement
"if you did not take a picture, it's as if you didn't live," or take part, in the occurrence
reminded me of an experience I had a while back. We'd gone to South Africa for a visit and were being taken on a "safari" around Kruger National Park by a really wonderful guide; she'd previously been a grade school teacher and carried over her desire to teach and inform into her new career as a safari guide. At one point she stopped the truck, turned to us and said (paraphrasing), "Now ... I want to encourage you to put down the cameras every so often and record with your eyes - to see things first-hand and not from behind a small screen. The memories you make this way will be far more valuable than any videos or photos."

As a habitual photo-taker, I did not do a particularly good job of heeding her advice. I have lots of photos to document the fact that I went and saw some animals, and I enjoy looking at them and showing them to others, but my memories of the trip are largely of those snapshots and of frowning at the buttons and dials on my camera. What few genuine sense-memories I have are from the times when I left the camera behind or elected not to use it. In my case, taking photos seems to have made me less likely to take part in the occurrence, not more.

Humans love to play show-and-tell and I'm no different. Whenever I see something that interests me, my first inclination will always be to want to show it to someone else, and so I will always be reaching for my pocket to grab my phone. It's good, though, for me to disconnect on occasion, and just record with my eyes. Leave the phone in the pocket. Don't send that "hey, check this out" email/message right that instant. Watch the interesting stuff happen in real life and not from behind a small screen. The other day I saw a crow do a barrel roll ...

Re: Record With Your Eyes (Score: 1, Interesting)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-05-02 16:16 (#1AZ)

There are several relevant XKCD cartoons about this. One is the guy looking at the mountain range, thinking "I should liveblog this" or something. Another is actually about this: one guy taking a photo of a sunset, and another complaining about it, then a third telling the second to basically piss off with his condescension. Good stuff.

Re: Record With Your Eyes (Score: 3, Interesting)

by on 2014-05-03 10:52 (#1BK)

As someone who disagrees with almost everything that comes out of Netanyahu's mouth, I shocked myself by immediately noticing some wisdom in his outburst.

Regarding the camera thing - to be honest, cameras enhance my experience. I've got horrible astigmatism which turns all distant details into a mess. My camera, with its telephoto lens on, lets me see those things in a way that would otherwise be impossible. (I've never seen this much detail with my naked eye, for example: (that was without a tripod, believe it or not, I just managed to wedge myself firmly against something rigid)) However, the full immersion of the experience - the full context and the sounds, and smells, are sometimes a bigger experience than the narrow zoomed-in ones that the camera gives. Shitty cameras? No comparison at all. Anyone wasting time with a camphone on a safari should be fed to the animals.

Re: Record With Your Eyes (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-03 19:41 (#1BP)

I've been fortunate to have eyes that function with somewhat better-than-normal vision (at least until recently (damn you, aging!)), so I'd never given a lot of consideration to the visual-enhancement value a camera can provide. What a nice bonus to have in addition to the preservation of images.

Excellent photo of the moon, by the way. I think it turned out as well, or better, than one I took with a tripod, and furthermore appears (at least at this size) to have little-or-no chromatic aberration. It's said that it's a poor craftsman who blames his tools, but having the right tools, and ones that are of high quality, clearly makes a difference. Agreed, therefore, with your stance on cameraphone safaris. Far better to be immersed in the moment.

Re: Record With Your Eyes (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-03 19:49 (#1BQ)

Thanks! For reference, it was a Canon EOS 500D (1.6x crop sensor), Canon 55-250mm zoom at 250mm, IIRC stopped down to ~f7.2, 1/60s, image stabilisation on (and worth every penny at that zoom), and is a 100% crop from centre frame (hence no CA!).

I love that zoom lens, it's made me happier than any other camera kit I've ever bought.

Re: Record With Your Eyes (Score: 1)

by on 2014-05-04 00:51 (#1BX)

Nice gear. Thanks for the info. I'm going to pass all that along to my bro-in-law, as he's a Canon man and would really appreciate that lens and photo.

Re: Record With Your Eyes (Score: 2, Informative)

by on 2014-05-04 08:39 (#1C0)

This is basically the only website that I use as a resource for info on lenses, as they have no perceptable bias:

If your bro-in-law wants some fun, then there's plenty to be had with this little puppy:
(which is available in native EOS mount, I don't know why they had to kludge it)

Need balance (Score: 2, Insightful)

by on 2014-05-04 22:34 (#1C6)

There's a balance to maintain here: I traveled extensively in Southeast Asia in '93, and decided to just live for the moment, no camera. These days, I kind of regret it - that was an awesome trip and I don't have many photos from it. On the other hand, the memories are great ...

I also never thought I'd carry a smartphone with a camera in it, but hey, here is a Note 3 in my pocket and I kind of love it. With my kids doing interesting things all the time, it's useful to be able to whip one out and capture it. I almost never carry my little video recorder anymore, which is a direct result of the camera phone.

Leaders don't need fancy phones, though. They should be reading, thinking, and speaking carefully, not suffering the distractions of the rest of the world. If they need a gadget, give them a nice, old Palm Pilot - just the basics.