Now that's how you capture an audience. Today, President Barack Obama appeared as part of a Keynote Conversation to kick off South by Southwest, Austin's mega popular music, film, and interactive festival, where he spoke about using technology to increase civic engagement and voter participation.
The POTUS sat down with Evan Smith, the CEO and Editor in Chief of The Texas Tribune, for a conversation about our very connected lives where he called on the audience (and every citizen) to apply their ideas and talents to make technology work for us—especially when it comes to tackling big challenges like increasing participation in the political process and fighting climate change.
Here are our favorite quotes from Obama's keynote address:
1. "We are at a moment in history where technology and globalization, our economy is changing so fast and this gathering set up by Southwest brings together people at the cutting edge of these changes. These changes offer us a lot of opportunities, but are also very unsettling."
2. "We want to make sure that we’re using big data, analytics, technology to make civic participation easier."
3. “The reason I’m here really is to recruit all of you. To say to you as I’m about to leave office: How can we start coming up with new platforms, ideas, and approaches across disciplines and skill sets to solve some of the big problems that we’re facing today.”
4. "The most important office in a democracy is the office of the citizen."
5. "We want to create a pipeline where there’s a continuous flow of talent that is working to help the government."
6. "We’re the only advanced democracy in the world that makes it harder for people to vote. You’re laughing, but it’s sad…We systematically put up barriers and make it as hard as possible for our citizens to vote. It is much easier to order pizza or a trip than it is for you to exercise the single most important task in a democracy, and that is to select who is going to represent you in government."
7. "I think it’s important for a group like this to think about, with an upcoming election, how do we redesign our systems. How can we create safe, secure, smart systems for people to be able to vote much easier online?…You don’t want the federal government engineering that. But the incredible talent in this room can think about it."
8. "Part of it is the fact that when government does great things, we take it for granted and it’s not a story. Every day government is delivering for everybody in this room whether you know it or not."
9. "Part of our task is to tell a better story of what government does."
10. "We cannot solve the problems in government unless we the people are paying attention."
11. "It is critical that all of you, who are shaping this environment, are thinking about how are we getting citizens engaged and how are you yourself getting engaged."
12. "These are solvable problems. It’s not a matter of us passively waiting for somebody else to solve it, and that’s part of the mindset that I’m trying to break."
13. "My campaign slogan was not 'Yes I can' but 'Yes we can.'"
14. "We need to use social media in order to join forces around problems."
15. "It’s not enough to focus on what’s the cool, next thing. It’s about how we can harness the cool, next thing to benefit more people."
16. "I expect you to step up and get involved because the country needs you."
17. "Thanks Obama."