5 Signs President-Elect Obama Is a Geek

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SealpresidentialcolorSealpresidentialcolor (This post originally ran on November 6, 2008. We are re-posting it in honor of the inauguration.)

Barack Obama, soon to who becomes the 44th President of the U.S.A. today, is many things: a statesman, a lawyer, an author, and an orator. It is also our opinion at GeekDad that, even without knowing him personally, we have enough evidence to demonstrate that he is a big geek. Even if you didn’t want him to win the election, you have to admit that it would be awesome for him to be not only the first African-American President, but also the first geek President. Here, then, is our evidence:

1. Obama has pledged to create a cabinet-level Chief Technology Officer for the country. The U.S. CTO would be responsible for making broadband technology readily available to every U.S. citizen, and for fighting the telcos for net neutrality. While this is admirable for many reasons, it seems to us that nobody would make this a central point of his presidential campaign unless he were, on some level, a geek.

2. He is a big fan of Star Trek. He said himself: "I grew up on Star Trek. I believe in the final frontier." And, when Leonard Nimoy was the guest on NPR’s "Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!" in September, he said that he had run into "one of the presidential candidates" and that that candidate had, upon seeing Nimoy, given him the Vulcan salute. He refused to name the candidate, but said he "was not John McCain." (Ed. Note: not to mention, he is the best example of the strength of IDIC we’ve seen in a long time)

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3. He can talk techspeak when the occasion demands it. Almost a year ago, Obama visited Google and had a Q&A session with employees. CEO Eric Schmidt asked him what the most efficient way would be to sort a million 32-bit integers. Obama smoothly responded "I think the bubble sort would be the wrong way to go." Now, yes, he was probably prepped for the question by his staff (since McCain had been asked a similar question at his Google Q&A weeks earlier), but that’s OK—plenty of geeks BS their way through technical interview questions, right?

4. Obama has repeatedly spoken about using the Internet to make the White House more open and accessible to the public once he’s President. This would include letting people enter comments on bills before he signs them, putting videos of some meetings online, and in general making the executive Superman_2Superman_2 branch transparent. He’s already shown in his campaign that he and his staff know how to use the Internet to extremely good purpose, including extensive use of SMS, Twitter, and even building an iPhone app. This would be another of the duties of the CTO mentioned in #1, but is significant enough we felt it was worthy of being considered a separate piece of evidence.

5. The photograph you see to the right, which can even be found on Obama’s official Senate website. I don’t think any explanation is necessary as to why this qualifies as evidence.

So, what do you think? Any further evidence? Any evidence against?

It must be pointed out, since this is GeekDad, that if indeed Barack Obama is a geek, he is a geek dad like us, since by now just about everyone knows about his two daughters. The coolness of having a geek dad President-Elect can scarcely be overstated.

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