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Bill Clinton Talks Tech in Malaysia

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, November 12 2010

Sure, good reporting demands an actual attempt to get the real transcript of Bill Clinton's talk yesterday to about a thousand students gathered at Malaysia's INTI International University, but let's just for a minute to enjoy what the Malaysian National New Agency heard from the former American president tell the assembled crowd about the potential of technology to both expand their intellects and better the public realm:

The former US president also urged the students to make full use of the knowledge that could be derived from the Internet as opposed to the times in the past when one had to spend a lot of time to acquire knowledge.

He also said that advances in technology also enabled people to respond to charitable causes in a more efficient manner where money could be transferred with a few clicks on the mobile phone.

Clinton wasn't known as the tech-savviest of politicians while president; he sent a grand total of two emails in his eight years in the Oval Office. But he's a man who listens to the times, and so there's a decent chance that what Clinton had in mind with "a few clicks on the mobile phone" might be the tens of millions of dollars that his wife's U.S. State Department helped to raise, via a text messaging campaign, for Haiti in the aftermath of that country's earthquake. That said, there's probably more lost in the translation on that first sentence; Bill Clinton might be many things, but it's not likely that one of them is an advocate for the idea that we can consign to "the past" the idea that sometimes it takes real time to acquire real smarts.