Look to the Future for Solutions Rather than the Past: Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. calls out iPad as a job-killer

Kelly Hodgkins reports on a story from MacDailyNews that Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., who once thought iPads and ebook readers should be a guaranteed right of all American school children, is now attacking the iPad and lesser devices as the engines of American job destruction. He wrongly accuses the iPad and other easily portable computing devices as killing American publishing and bookselling jobs. This is an incredibly shortsighted way of seeing technological development and its effect on jobs and the economy. Furthermore, his way of thinking is anti-progress and anti-innovative. Instead of lamenting the shifts in the economy as a result of technological innovation, he should be part of the solution to figure out new economic models that supports jobs and economic growth rather than decrying the on-going shift to new economic models that support these new technologies. We cannot look backwards nostalgically if we intend to weather the current economic storms. However, we can look backwards for inspirations on how to handle shifts in jobs. We know from history that there have been massive displacements of workers as a result of new technology, and humanity by and large handled those shifts in innovative and creative ways. This is not to say that these shifts are always for the better, but the innovations that lead to their taking place were necessary and inevitable for various reasons. Demonizing technology is not going to solve our current job crisis. Doing away with the iPad (obviously, not something that will happen), will not magically resurrect the lethargic mega-bookseller Borders or the other nosediving brick and mortar booksellers. Looking into the past, there were not always book sellers as we knew them, and looking into the future, there will not always be book sellers as they were in the past. Businesses have to adapt to the market and the influence that new technologies have on the marketplace. Likewise, jobs will have to be changed and the education necessary for job holders will need to adapt to the new needs of the market. Rep. Jackson and other congressional leaders need to look to the future and employ their extrapolative imaginations rather than their nostalgic memories of a bygone era. Some businesses are already doing this while other businesses that refuse to adapt are going the way of dinosaurs. Some of these resistant businesses are taking longer than others to die out, but it is likely that new Tyrannosaurus and Brachiosaurus will arise on the marketplace savannas. Hopefully, political and business leaders will adopt a more inventive strategy to shape these future Goliaths.

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. calls out iPad as a job-killer.

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Jason W. Ellis

I am an Associate Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I direct the B.S. in Professional and Technical Writing Program and coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.