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Facebook, Google, and the Near-Term Future of the USA

Is Obama's 'Sputnik moment' a metaphor that can help re-boot America?

On the day when the Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 12,000 for the first time since June 2008, it was impossible not to correlate the eloquence and optimism of President Obama's "State of the Union" speech on Tuesday night with the restoration of a sense of perspective and hope in the USA about the future.

Obama grasped the nettle full-on. "We are poised for progress," he declared, adding:

"Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing."

As one blogger expressed it, though - and he is a former Goldman Sachs trader called Tyler Durden, so he ought to know wheref he speaks:

"There was a massive pink elephant in the room called reality though."

Durden's gripe is with what he deems to be the unreality of Obama's praising Google and Facebook so highly in an America where 26 million people are unemployed or underemployed. It is with Obama's failure to address that while the salaries of U.S. CEOs are up, the average median employee salary on a comparative basis is stuck somewhere in the 1970s.

"This is our generation’s Sputnik moment," Obama said, in the most-quoted sentence of the entire address. America, in other words, needs to enter an Education Race akin to the Space Race that it entered in 1958.

What role will New Media activities play in all of this? Facebook may be many things, but a tool for better education is not one of them. Google stands a better chance in that regard. But Twitter? Can tweeting really help restore America's lost position in the world?

Those who live by new media die by new media. The 44th President of the United States of America needs to be careful when hitching the wagon of his presidency to stock prices and IPOs...can we all really have already forgotten the Dot-com bubble, which peaked in March 2000, when the NASDAQ lost nearly nine percent of its value in just six days and many dot-coms began to run out of capital and were acquired or liquidated?

What do you think? Is the 'Sputnik moment' a metaphor that can help re-boot America? What web-based organizations instil more hope in you, commercial giants like Facebook and Google...or non-commercial minnows like Wikipedia? How can we best preserve a World Wide Web in which there is room for both?

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.