Then vs Now
According to some popular opinions, today’s information age affords more information to teens today than a few of the world leaders had access to 20 years ago. C+R Research has put this hypothesis through its paces, comparing access to information across areas such as private data, classified information, genetics, public opinion, and more and finds that in many ways the average smartphone user does, in fact, have access to a lot more information than those with the highest clearance would have two decades ago. However, the accuracy and quality of data available don’t necessarily compare.
Critical Information vs. the Non-Essentials
C+R Research finds that just about any 13-year- old with a smartphone in 2016 would beat President Bill Clinton’s 1996 intelligence and access in areas such as traffic data, music, trivia, opinion, and even genetics. But then, the president of the United States might not have time to listen to the 30 million songs immediately accessible via Spotify, nor would Air Force One likely be constrained by the same traffic limitations as the rest of us. Of course, political campaign teams of 20 years ago would drool for the polling possibilities that Twitter offers today.
On the other hand, President Clinton would have had better access to classified information, data from satellites, and research journals, as well as access to private data – though there are rules governing this, some very important people tend to be ‘incorporated’ into such regulations. Happily, or unhappily depending on how much privacy you desire, tracking of family members via the secret service in 1996 was about as proficient as the smartphone apps we use today to monitor friends and family.
In the end, the 13-year-old wins 7 to 5 in the most general terms, but it’s important to recognize that the broad scope of information available today doesn’t necessarily point to accurate or significant information, two traits President Clinton could be sure of.
By Jennifer Klostermann