I haven’t watched Parliamentary proceedings in ages so I never knew that MPs were allowed to use iPads in the House until today when ST published an interview with Speaker Michael Palmer. It was, he said, so that they could answer emails and check on points made.
Frankly, I’m appalled. Can fiddle with handphone, now can fiddle with iPad. Bigger screen, easier to use.
Already, the obsession with gadgets and the need to be “in touch” all the time has taken over all kinds of social activity. You have people texting away at meetings, updating facebook at work, answering emails during dinners. You can have a whole bunch of people sitting down – in silence – while they “talk” to their iPad or phone. And here is the highest forum in the land where listening should be prized and attention, focused. You put your brain to work, listening, processing and concluding. Parliament doesn’t sit very often, and even so not for that long. For a few hours, you can’t leave your gadgets behind? Michael Palmer says no wi-fi, but there’s always 3G.
It used to be that when you have an important phone call to make, you get out of the meeting. Someone slips you a note when you have an urgent matter to attend to and you excuse yourself. If something is really so important that requires an instant answer from you, you can bet someone will find a way to reach you even when you are in Parliament.
Maybe I’m being too hard on MPs. Maybe over the past years, they have been very restrained about turning their attention to their iPads. Maybe.
Maybe we’ll also see a full House, or at least a quorum, every time a Bill is debated. Too.