Tag Archives | Politics

Running a Country…on Your iPad

What happens when you’re head of state and you’re stranded in a foreign land, and there’s pressing national business to attend to? Simple, pull out your iPad. That’s exactly what Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg did in New York, CNN reports. With ash from and erupting Icelandic volcano grounding flights to Europe, the Prime Minister was able to stay on top of business back home.

Government officials posted a picture of Stoltenberg hovering over his iPad on the government website, saying “the prime minister is working at the airport.” Along with the iPad, Stoltenberg is using a mobile phone and the Internet to stay abreast of the situation back home. Apple couldn’t get any better PR for its highly popular device than this…


Obama Set to Fund Broadband Expansion Initiative

The US government will be awarding $2 billion of federal stimulus money over the next 75 days to begin work to expand broadband to rural areas. The first $182 million is being distributed beginning today for 18 projects in 17 states, the Obama Administration said. Some $7.2 billion overall has been marked in the stimulus for work on broadband.

Government officials supporting the plan argue that the investment will stimulate the economy and create “tens of thousands of jobs.” The issue of unemployment has begun to nag the Adminstration, which for much of 2009 has been bogged down in the morass that has become health care reform.

Monies received through the broadband stimulus program may not be exactly for Internet access, however. Improvements to the electrical grid, work in electronic medical records, and high-speed rail projects are also set to receive some funds as a result of the move, officials say.

While I know some of Obama’s opponents will see this as a foolhardy way to spend money, I think it is a good idea to start investing in our broadband infrastructure. Lets put it this way: in the modern economy, broadband Internet access has become ever more vital to success. With the US falling behind globally, you could argue that our businesses are also suffering as well. Add to this the patchwork nature of our broadband footprint, and well, you get the point.

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GOP Moves to Block Net Neutrality

Julius GenachowskiA Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposal that would require Internet service providers to treat all network traffic equally was met with resistance by Republicans on Capitol Hill today.

FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski is expected to unveil a policy that advocates network neutrality this week. If the policy is implemented, providers would no longer be able to interfere with information that flows through their networks. ISPs, including Comcast, have managed peer-to-peer network traffic to alleviate network congestion, and oppose the concept.

Senate Republicans also stand in opposition to net neutrality, and moved to deny the FCC funding for developing or implementing new Internet regulations. Genachowski was appointed to the FCC by President Obama.

“I am deeply concerned by the direction the FCC appears to be heading. Even during a severe downturn, America has experienced robust investment and innovation in network performance and online content and applications,” Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison said in a statement. ” She said that regulations could stifle innovation, and that the marketplace would respond to companies that exhibit questionable behavior.

Vinton Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet Protocol and Google evangalist, and Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, favor network neutrality. Berners-Lee believes that ISPs seek to shift customers to a tiered pricing model, where access to information pipelines will be tightly controlled.

I agree with Berners-Lee, and would rather see preemptive regulation than for Internet users to lose the benefits of the Internet. Toll booths would impede–not encourage–innovation. What do you think?


The Web Does Not Equal More Civic Engagement

world wide webThe Web is not the answer to increased civic participation, according to the results of a study released Tuesday by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Instead, as in offline activities, those engaged are still basically older and more wealthy than the citzenry at large.

For example, 35 percent of adults making more than $100,000 a year had participated in some kind of online political activity over the past year. Contrast this with those making under $20,000 — only 8 percent participation was recorded there. Pew noted that this was the same gap seen offline as well.

The bottom line seems to be that the more money you make, the more likely you’re going to be civically involved, regardless of whether it’s online or not.

“Contrary to the hopes of some advocates, the internet is not changing the socio-economic character of civic engagement in America,” Pew research specialist Aaron Smith said. He did acknowledge that access to the Internet does also correlate to socio-economic status, but added there was still a “strong positive relationship” between socio-economic status and political activism.

The news is certainly a blow to those who have been lifting the Web up as a way for a broader swath of the citizenry to get involved — heck, our own President is one of it’s biggest cheerleaders. But there may be a light at the end of the tunnel: social networking.

Pew found that those on social networking sites did not follow the patterns they found elsewhere, and thus one’s financial situation meant less to whether or not they were politically active.

“The impact of these new tools on the future of online political involvement depends in large part upon what happens as this younger cohort of “digital natives” gets older. Are we witnessing a generational change or a life-cycle phenomenon that will change as these younger users age? Will the civic divide close, or will rapidly evolving technologies continue to leave behind those with lower levels of education and income,” Smith asked.

I guess we’ll find out.

(Cross-posted from TechPolitik)

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In Case of Emergency, Should the White House Control the Internet?

Obama shuts off InternetCnet’s Declan McCullagh has a good story up on a Senate Bill sponsored by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) which would give the White House the power to disconnect private computers from the Internet in the case of a cyberemergency. McCullagh says that the bill, a revised version of one floated last spring, remains troubling to Internet and telecommunications companies and civil liberties groups, who say the the new version remains vague about the powers it grants.

Let’s take a T-Poll on it–and just to remove politics from the issue (and despite my silly piece of art), let’s make this question about a fictional President of the United States of unspecified political party, not the guy who happens to be there right this very minute…


Health Care Reform becomes Comedic Gold on Twitter

Twitter logoThe U.S. debate over President Obama’s health care reform proposals has taken a humorous turn on Twitter today.

Tweets making light of some of the more outlandish claims that are being made by the President’s political opponents have become trending topics: Under Obamacare and #Obamacarefacts. Here’s a sampling of some of the wittier remarks.


Under Obamacare two grandmas enter… one grandma leaves. http://tinyurl.com/m67qt9


Under ObamaCare, Soylent Green will be people. #obamacarefacts (via @Southworth)


#obamacarefacts Under Obamacare only Chuck Norris will be allowed to practice medicine. Administered via roundhouse kick


Under ObamaCare, keyboard cat will play YOU out. #obamacarefacts


#obamacarefacts Under ObamaCare, organ donates you!


Under ObamaCare, ADHD drugs for children will be replaced with swift punches to the offending child’s arms http://tinyurl.com/ngsqgm


Tech, Politics, and Ed = TechPolitik

RealpolitikEd Oswald is Technologizer’s most prolific, longest-serving blogger who isn’t named Harry, which is pretty good evidence that he’s deeply interested in personal technology. If you know Ed, then you’re aware that he’s as interested in politics as he is in tech. Now he’s combined these two passions into a new blog called TechPolitik (a neat name, and reassuring proof that it’s still possible to register great domains in 2009).

RealPolitik TechPolitik is completely focused on matters such as tech-related public policy and the use of tech by government officials and politicians. I’m glad that Ed is doing it and plan to be a regular visitor–but I’m also relieved that he’ll still be blogging here, too.

If you’ve got any interest in this stuff, bookmark the site–and hey, it’s on Twitter, too. Congratulations, Ed!


Digg This: The White House's Social Media Experiment

Reviving an experiment it conducted during the transition, the Obama administration is using a Digg-style collaborative system called Open for Questions to collect questions for the president to answer. Here’s why it’s doi–oh, heck, wouldn’t you prefer to hear it from the horse’s mouth?

Open for Questions lets registered users submit questions and vote on questions submitted by others. I can’t understand why the interface is trapped inside a tiny window that involves lots of scrolling, but the questions that are rising to the top are no worse than those that citizens tend to ask when presented with the opportunity at town-hall style meetings with elected officials. Here are the ones at the top of the rankings when I checked:

Open for Change

I’m not sure what anti-tampering measures are in place at Open for Questions–you gotta think that even now, someone’s plotting a prank like the one that resulted in Hank the Angry, Drunken Dwarf being voted People’s Most Beautiful Person of the Year in 1998. And I found that it’s more fun to read the unfiltered questions that the service shows you for voting–they’re wackier and crankier. A high percentage are from folks who are fretting about immigration (illegal and otherwise), and some are from conspiracy theorists, obsessives, and people with unique ideas for fixing the economy:





The president will answer questions from this round of voting tomorrow (on the Web, naturally). I’m not sure if he’ll simply respond to the most popular ones, no matter what they may be–or if he’ll be more selective. Betcha that none of the four above will make the cut, though..


Obama's Broadband Initiative off to Slow Start

While President Obama has made much of his efforts to bring broadband in the US up to par with other countries — his Administration is spending $7.2 billion on it — it appears the initiative is not off to as fast a start as some of Obama’s other programs.

The government held a informational meeting at the Commerce Department on Tuesday which was well attended according to BusinessWeek. However, important questions — such as the government’s definition of “unserved,” the recipients of the lion’s share of the money — were not answered.

Officials with the the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) deflected those questions, saying it was still looking for guidance from industry leaders and the public. Every other question about allocation was answered in the same way, BW reports.

So what was the point of this meeting? No one seems to know. What it does seem like is a collosal waste of time if the government wasn’t ready to announce anything substatiative. For an Adminstration that’s hanging its hat on eliminating government waste, meaningless events like this could be a good place to start.

There are more public meetings scheduled. These will take place in Washington, Las Vegas, and Flagstaff, Arizona, and be open to industry leaders and other interested parties. One hopes by this time they will know what they’re doing.

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