Upgrade. Upgrade. Upgrade. In a word, that is what this section deals with. It is about upgrading the very infrastructure that criss-crosses this great country. Realistically it is that “Greatness” or “Vastness” that proves to be the largest hurdle to providing more internet access across this country.But the problem is deeper than whether or not you can get the internet to someone’s door. The truth of the matter is that as long as you have a phone in your home you could access the internet albeit quite a painful experience. The issue here is not internet access as much as it is access to Broadband. Bigger pipes, faster speed providing more access to rich media and content. It seems that the first hurdle is to not define the term “Broadband” but to modify the definition of broadband to reflect what that term really means. Originally it was laid out as anything over 200Kbps. This in and of itself is absurd. 3G Cellular networks provide more speed than this. The truth is, that the definition of “Broadband” will have be defined as a dynamic term that may require modification or review every ‘X’ number of years if for no other reason than to keep commercial interests honest concerning the services they provide to the public. Once that is defined you can then begin to analyze the delivery method of that bandwidth to the citizens of this country. What was once an astronomically cost prohibitive challenge when the consideration was limited to a wired infrastructure, can now be looked at more creatively with the newer technologies available. WiFi, Satellite, Microwave, Cable, Fiber all poised to reach more locations in this vast country than anything else previously on the market. Where the Internet began as a U.S. Government project, it has slipped into the realm of commercial use and control. What will need to occur to fix this is really a true partnership between the Public and Private sectors to “Git ‘er done.” The strength of Obama to cross party lines to get things done will be further stretched when he begins to take on the commercial interests of the big national infrastructure players like AT&T, Verizon and others. It will take some serious negotiations and planning to accomplish this task of further providing every American the availability of access to the Internet at reasonable costs. I honestly do not see this as an impossible task, after all, we have managed to provide water and electricity to almost every household in America why not the Internet when you can serve it up via so many different options?
Image the U.S. Government being run like a true Enterprise. To do so would require a huge political undertaking to say the least. That is only on the Business side. On the Technology side you would think it would be much easier. After all, Technology would not differ as greatly as that of the Business of running a Government. There are International Business who undertake a more complex technology environment. You only need look at the likes of GE or any of the major Investment Banks on Wall Street.They operate in multiple countries around the world with many unique dissimilar business lines all operating on a common infrastructure. Why is it then, that a single government in one country cannot do the same? Politics. That is the only justification I can rationally accept in my own mind. So how does this leap occur? What will it take to run this nation’s infrastructure like a single common entity? I am not naive enough to over simplify this problem at all. I am hoping that it is not being over simplified in the Obama Enterprise either. The plan is to put in place a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) not unlike many of the most successful industries of our nation. The plan is to have this individual/office take complete responsibility of planning an effective strategy to bring together all of the disparate technologies of our nations governmental departments. I do think it is ironic that we put in place a Director of Homeland Security to ensure that all Federal departments are talking and sharing information for the sake of protecting this country from threat, but yet the infrastructures continue to remain separate to some degree, with each department running on their own Technology budgets, strategy and platforms. It is time to take the Technology serious as a major element to an effective Government instead of a Tool taking a back seat to the business of protecting this country. This is not by any means an easy task. It means forming relationships and working closely with each departmental CIO to form a single strategy. It also means taking into account the areas of national security that will have to remain isolated to ensure confidentiality. There is also the issue of privacy and protection of information for all of America’s citizens while at the same time making other information publicly accessibly under the E-Government Act. There is also the issue of public safety and fixing the the broken infrastructure required to ensure that first responders can act effectively and immediately to issues of an emergency nature. Natural Disasters are a good example. Not simply getting the word out but keeping that word going despite the lack of standard telecommunication methods. This is were things like Satellite, Wifi, VoIP technologies can be effectively deployed in times of crisis to ensure that communication channels remain open. The selfish side of me would simply like the U.S. Government to put in place a National Wireless infrastructure for all of its citizens. The only problem with that is the mistrust that some department in Government would use that as a means to monitor our every move. What we don’t need is the “Big Brother” watching us when what we really need is “Big Brother” to watch himself.
The old boy network is what I think of when I think of the Federal Government and elected officials. It is almost as if it is a race to get through all of the hard work and struggles of a state level politician to achieve that goal of making it to Washington. Once there all of the reasons and issues that led one there are quickly forgotten or overshadowed by the perks of an elected official in Washington.That is how I have always viewed it and so have numerous others who have lost their confidence in Washington to look out for those of us who depend on them to do the right thing. What has happened and I venture to believe will continue to happen, is that lobbyists for Big Business will continue to shower these officials with elaborate schemes to “sweeten” the deal for their own interests and deep pockets over that of the “little guy”. This has been able to occur because of the bureaucracy and web of double speak that occurs in Washington that throws up a smoke screen to these questionable activities. Essentially it occurs under the table, radar and whatever else you can think of keeping it all out of sight of the general public. Obama’s Policy Paper attempts to address this issue through the use of Technology. His continued fight against the deceit and vagueness that occurs within government is admirable, however how much would he actually be able to achieve? More importantly, if this information is made available, how much of the voting public would actually pay attention to it and take matters into their own hands to seek out the truth in government? I am as guilty as the next for only sticking to the headlines as published through the mainstream media. That information is also essentially the opinion or writings of others who may not have the same interests as your or I. To effectively ensure that these officials and special interest groups are held at bay will require the work of all of us. To go beyond the headlines and dig into the data that Mr. Obama intends to make technically available to all of us. I can think of one place in particular that provides an immense amount of information available today on the work being done in the halls of Congress and the Senate. It is called OpenCongress.Org and puts out there for all of us to view each and every Bill put before these governmental bodies. The beauty of this site in particular is it also puts out there which elected officials Sponsor, support and vote on each and every one of them. The site is thorough providing you with contact information based on your district’s representation in these public offices to allow you to voice your opinion directly to these official. It is a very good site for those serious about discovering what issues affect you. So even though the goal is to create a transparent and connected democracy, it is “We The People” yet again that will have to uphold our side of this deal by taking advantage of the information that is being made transparent. Without such action these efforts are completely for naught.
How can it be a right to have privacy yet live with limits to that privacy? Is that truly a right? I would think it is more of a Guideline to Privacy. Yes ladies and gentlemen this is a tricky one made even more complicated by the numerous stories of Governmental misuse of laws “re-engineered” to allow wire-tapping in the name of terrorism.Safeguard our Right to Privacy – The internet is truly the information superhighway. At the same time, a large portion of that information is information about you, your neighbors and your family. Every day we are under attack from spammers, hackers, viruses and criminals trying to trick us into voluntarily providing our personal information to some cause or overthrown leader of a West African nation so that they can recover their Family’s lost millions, of which you will receive a handsome percentage of. DUH! Then it gets complicated. Rumors of Corporate Espionage come into play. Companies trying to obtain employee data via cold-calls to unsuspecting and un-informed employees. Stolen electronic devices and laptops containing sensitive corporate information as well as employee information. Finally it gets down right scary. Governmental information of U.S. Citizens stored in who knows what dungeon within the walls of the C.I.A., FBI or NSA all in the name of National Security. Social Security Numbers lost on laptops left behind in public locations or stolen outright. Yes, we are at war, but not a conventional one. This is a war of electronic deception that moves at the speed of light. in some cases, set off by the stupidity of the human condition. Data and Information are what they are. There is no code that decides to steal data or lose a laptop. This is all done within the magic realm of the human mind. The one variable that is the most difficult to control, manage or stop. The good news is, you can educate, inform and put in place serious penalties for those who commit crime or abuse personal information or data. You can even continue to research and implement stronger encryption and algorithms to slow down cyber crime. But you will never stop it. That is the other side of the human condition ingenuity. We can all sit around and hope someone else comes up with a better mouse-trap, we can even recoil into a face-less existence on-line. As we continue to leverage technology to streamline our daily lives however, pulling away from the net may very well be the equivalent of saving your life’s savings within the coils of your mattress at home. The world is marching unabated into a future that will become more increasingly integrated with the on-line world driven by business and other critical industries we have to deal with on a daily basis. It is nice to see Political figures making efforts to understand and address this, but once again, it is our own responsibility as citizens to understand technology and take steps to protect our own data. In most cases this involves a tad bit more common sense than we have seen in the past; passwords people, passwords! This is not an Election issue, this is a life issue we all should be very much on top of you have to keep yourself informed, educated and engaged with your government representatives, making sure they do what it is that is in all of our best interest. But you already knew that, didn’t you?
As a Parent of two young children who have yet to figure out how to do anything with my computer other than to sneak up and punch keys while I am typing. However, the day will come soon when they are asking for a time-share deal on my hardware. This became evident to me after realizing that at my Daughter’s Day Care they actually had a computer in the classroom for the children to “explore,” opening another avenue that I will have to patrol as a concerned parent.
Protect Our Children While Preserving the First Amendment The Obama take on this concern is interesting. Going against the general Democratic belief that “Government” is needed to legislate problems out of our lives, Obama is yet again putting the parents under the spot-light for being responsibility for their children’s exposure to undesirable content both in the media as well as on the web.
When faced with a decision to put up Wonder Pets or Sponge Bob Squarepants, I always choose Wonder Pets because I feel Sponge Bob is more for entertainment than education. Thanks to the Mrs, TV is scrutinized and managed heavily in our household.
Maybe that one was too easy, here’s another:
I was a bit disturbed and shocked by something my Daughter said within ear-shot of myself. She was in the other room and at the age of 3 and a half she said; “My Daddy’s going to kill me!” All I could think about is her saying that in a public location and me being hauled in by some Child Services Division for Child Abuse! I immediately went to her and asked her what she said; to confirm my own ears. She repeated it word for word. I had to know where she picked it up from and she said; “from the Little Mermaid Daddy.” Wow… Disney.
This is going to be tough. It would be so easy to somehow mandate the FCC to step into the Internet and attempt to regulate this, but everyone knows this is both impossible and would draw huge protests centered around the First Amendment. It would also put us in the realm of that which we are all so quick to criticize the Chinese Government for doing. Dare I say it? Censorship.I am on board with this Policy’s view that true responsibility has to begin where the “rubber meets the road.” That is right here at home. Whether it is done with software made easy for the non-technical or through service agreements that providers offer to restrict certain non-child-friendly content through to the home which parents can sign up for. Myself, being in the IT Industry, I plan on implementing strict controls on my machines and leveraging any tools out there to assist me in making sure that I am on top of what my children are doing on-line as much as possible. One other thing I would want more clarity on is how this proposal intends to handle a means to report, track and apprehend the likes of predators and others conducting improper practices designed to exploit children. As an involved parent, this part of Mr. Obama’s Technology Policy Paper has my full attention. Gone are the days where you had to be home before the street lights came on and had to check in each and every hour because you were out playing in the neighborhood. The neighborhood of now is limitless with untold millions of dark alleys where children can be drug into and become exposed to things we, as their parents hadn’t encountered until much later in life.
Industries grow and contract like an inch-worm moves through its life. At this point of our own lives, Mr. Obama is concerned that the FCC has been spending more time focused on the consolidation of media outlets and communications pathways. In his view, this has done more harm than good for the small business owner or small media outlet. As local radio/television stations are consumed by these Media giants.Encourage Diversity in Media Ownership I too am concerned with the mainstream media’s monopolization of what content ends up in our lives. However, at the same time I find it interesting that this is an issue at all or that it needed to be raised in a Technology Policy Paper. I say this because when it comes to Technology, the David to these Goliath’s is the very internet itself. Music, News, Podcasts, Video almost every traditional media is being made available to every single person with a computer, microphone, keyboard or camera. The reality is, these large media giants should be scared. The only thing that separates the next block-buster sitcom from coming out of Hollywood vs. Alabama is content and determination. What will be regulated however is how fast these Media giants begin to buy up these smaller independent content provider or intimidate them into giving up their content. Where the focus will need to be going forward is on a more serious review of the national Copyright process and procedure. It has to be made a clear and open process to protect ones intellectual rights. That is what is really needed. This information has to be clear, concise, simple and enforced to protect those who provide the diversity this section hopes to protect.
“Ensure the Full and Free Exchange of Information through an Open Internet and Diverse Media Outlets”
This is the full title as written in the Technology Policy Paper released by the Obama team. As with anything else, I am sure there will be more vague terminology such as this from all of the candidates, however it does provide a vague concept to grasp onto. To assist with this, the Policy Paper actually breaks it down into 4 bullet points which i will attempt to translate into my own digestible understanding and thus also opening it up for discussion here.
Protect the Openness of the Internet In one very broad swoop, this section seems to support an “open” concept at two key layers. At first glance, it appears to address the right of free access of content provided on the internet. The second, actual access to the Internet. It is not long in reading before I quickly understood what issue this first section was attempting to address. The issue of Network Provider restrictions and controls over it’s customers.
With it being an election year, every pundit on the street has their opinion about the economy, the candidates, the geo-political issues. Much like the general public, politicians who are engaged in an election cycle also begin to become “concerned” or “aware” of the issues of we, the people. These points of public interest are usually addressed by these candidates in their fresh-off-the-press Policy Papers. It would seem there is a policy paper for everything.
This is going to be a blog series that will look at an area that I am well plugged into; Technology. Presidential Candidate Barack Obama has release his own Policy Paper addressing technology. I intend to read through and blog on each section. Might be able to shed some light on where a possible President will see my future going. For now, I leave you with the quote from Mr. Obama’s website:
“Let us be the generation that reshapes our economy to compete in the digital age. Let’s set high standards for our schools and give them the resources they need to succeed. Let’s recruit a new army of teachers, and give them better pay and more support in exchange for more accountability. Let’s make college more affordable, and let’s invest in scientific research, and let’s lay down broadband lines through the heart of inner cities and rural towns all across America.” — Barack Obama Presidential Announcement Speech in Springfield, IL 02/10/07
The Dark Knight has taken the world by storm in terms of popularity and Box Office receipts. This is obviously a clear indication that those of voting age have been spending quite a bit of time in the theater enjoying yet another episode in the trilogy that is Batman. So what do you expect to happen?
Each of the mainstream Presidential Candidates have proclaimed Batman to being one of their “All-time” favorite Comic Book characters. Does this not scream of political pandering? Do we really think either of these guys would have said the same thing 6 months ago? I really find it hard to believe. As a matter of fact, I want to know how long it took their political strategists to come up with these answers?
Hell, I would have given more credibility to it if McCain said something like Dick Tracy, Beetle Bailey or even Charlie damn Brown! Come on! At least Barack tempered it with what probably would have been his first choice of Spiderman. Or would it? Spidey has been a bit popular over the past few years as well.
I suppose in the grand scheme of things, should we really care what make-believe superhero any politician likes? Actually, I would have to be a bit concerned about the state of the union if anyone really gives 1/2 a rats ass on what superhero either of these guys likes.
If you are really going to ask such dumb ass questions of your Presidential candidates you might as well ask them if they prefer Boxers or Briefs! And you wonder why we have problems in Washington today.
As I sit here on the subway I look around and catch the occasional glance returned back at me before eyes quickly dart away. It is that minute before recognizing that someone has just seen you that you wonder what is going on in the depths of that individuals mind. What are they thinking? Are their thoughts on their destination? Is it the events or location of where they just left or are they on something completely random?
It is that last option that intrigues me. You could almost write the story yourself for any of the people on this train. I wonder if this is now how novels are born? You always find one person that intrigues you. You watch them analysing them. Trying to discover hat their lives must be like. Your mind drifts as you begin to paint the picture for them. You don’t need to know. Your interpretation is much more exciting, adventurous.
It is then, when it hits you square in the face. You are compensating, remapping everything you wish your own life was, onto the frame of another commuter.