Luddites Need Not Apply

It is becoming increasingly difficult to move through life without being technologically savvy. Maybe it’s still possible for some, but how is it even remotely possible when you’re in charge of our nation’s cybersecurity?

A few years ago when my friend Harvey wanted learning to edit video he sat and watched some pros.

“It’s not that I didn’t know how to do it,” Harvey would later say. “It’s that I didn’t know what I didn’t know!”

I thought of Harvey’s editing encounter when I read a story about Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitanto. She has been a frequent target of conservatives. Now she’s going to get it from me.

CNN Security Blog: Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano acknowledged Friday her Luddite-like ways, despite the fact her position puts her in a critical leadership role when it comes to defending the nation’s infrastructure from cyberattacks.

Napolitano said she does not use email “at all.”

“For a whole host of reasons. So, I don’t have any of my own accounts and that, you know, I’m very secure,” Napolitano noted at a Washington conference about cyber security.

“Some would call me a Luddite but you know. But that’s my own personal choice and I’m very unique in that regard I suspect,” Napolitano added.

It is 2012. Calling herself a Luddite might seem sweet and quaint to Secretary Napolitano. It is not!

Like Harvey, she doesn’t know what she doesn’t know.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to move through life without being technologically savvy. Maybe it’s still possible for some, but how is it even remotely possible when you’re in charge of our nation’s cybersecurity?

Secretary Napolitano’s comment is telling to others in a way she can’t see.

Does this disqualify her for the job? I don’t know what I don’t know, but at first glance–yes!

Scary.

8 thoughts on “Luddites Need Not Apply”

  1. Do you think the Secretary of Transportation should be a pilot, a bus driver, and a train engineer too? I believe all Cabinet positions are filled by those with experience with administrating large groups of experts in their fields. The exception is Secretary of State where Mrs. Clinton is, I believe, more than just a figurehead.

  2. I am glad you are recovering. We can tell from your tone of voice and the ever increasing diversity of topics. However…unless I missed it (and if I did please excuse me), it seems to me that a column devoted to acclaiming Helaine is long over due. I know you have had excruciating pain in your leg and back but she has probably had equal neck & butt pain! Looking forward to seeing you back on the air…

  3. Very disturbing, putting politics aside. She should not hold this position is she doesn’t even use some basic technology

  4. Being proud of the fact that you’re out of sync with technology is not a good selling point IMHO. The days of typewritten memos with numerous carbon copies is long gone. I can’t even imagine how her colleagues communicate with her, if not by email. My question is if she can’t trust that she can keep her computer “secure” then how can she possibly keep our country secure?

  5. Geoff, she was a 0 as governor of AZ how Obama gave her this position is questionable. I hope if he’s re-elected he removes her from any position of authority

  6. Nowhere in that excerpt does Napolitano call herself a Luddite.

    If she’s technology-phobic then, yes, I’m concerned. But the fact that she doesn’t use e-mail doesn’t concern me. Donald Knuth, the Stanford professor emeritus who wrote some of the seminal books on computer algorithms, gave up e-mail years ago, saying that it interfered with his need for periods of uninterrupted thought.

    And Terry, Janet Napolitano might not be your idea of a good governor, but she has to have been about 1,000 times better than Jan Brewer.

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