No paper? Have the President sign your iPad

Faith Merino · October 22, 2010 · Short URL:

President Barack Obama gives his signature via an iPad touchscreen at a rally in WA

President Barack Obama’s four-day tour of the western United States includes stops in Washington, California, and Nevada in an effort to boost support for Democratic senate incumbents.  Along the way, Obama stopped at a rally at the University of Washington, in Seattle, where a young man with a big name (Sylvester Cann IV…how many “fourths” do you know?) was waiting with his iPad.  Scrawled on the touchscreen were the words: “Mr. President, sign my iPad.”  And he did, which could very well mark the first time a president has signed an iPad touchscreen using his finger.

Cann told VatorNews his reason for having the president sign his iPad: “I didn’t have a pen and paper.”  I like this kid’s style. 

Cann, who is a 2004 alumni of the University of Washington and currently works as a legislative aide for a Washington State Representative, had the iPad with him “because I thought there was Wi-Fi at the arena and I would be able to do some news browsing while I was waiting for 2 hours…turns out there wasn't. So I just had it with me and halfway through his speech I thought of the idea to pull up a drawing app and see if I could get him to sign with his finger.”

As for that great shot of Cann pointing to the message on his iPad, that was taken by AP, while the video was shot by Cann’s friend, Harrison Price, who attended the rally with him. “I was actually the first person on the ropeline, so I lucked out and got to choose where I wanted to stand,” said Cann.

Later that day, the President met with the maker of that iPad, Steve Jobs, in a hotel room in San Francisco, where the two reportedly discussed issues ranging from education to technology.

Obama is well known for being tech-savvy.  His presidential campaign is regarded as the first to rely on social networking to draw and organize supporters.  His Facebook page currently has over 15 million fans, and his campaign sported an iPhone “Obama app.”

Ironically, in a recent commencement speech delivered to 1,000 graduates and their families at Hampton University, Obama admitted that he doesn’t know how to work a number of different devices.  The message of the speech was that technology, while fundamental to education today, can prove to be a distraction.

"With iPods and iPads; Xboxes and PlayStations – none of which I know how to work – information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation," Obama said.  "All of this is not only putting new pressures on you. It is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy."

 I find it hard to believe that anyone doesn’t know how to work an iPod.  It seems pretty self-explanatory… Nevertheless, the President seemed to have no problem “working” the iPad that was held out to him at the Seattle rally, effortlessly scrawling his signature without a problem, which leads me to wonder if he’s seen this scenario before… If it were me, I would’ve been befuddled and looking for a stylus, like a UPS delivery.  But maybe that's why I'm not the President of the United States. When you're President, you have to roll with the punches.

Compare the two signatures below. The top is from Cann's iPad and the one below is Obama's traditional pen-and-paper signature.


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