Broad(band) Stimulus and the First High-Tech Prez

The signs are there: technology is finally coming to the White House.

When Barack Obama insisted on keeping his mobile e-mail device, it was a sign that the times they are a' changin'. Despite security objections from the old guard ("But he'll see the big board!"), the President will be able to use current technology in his job. Indeed, President Obama has sent a message (pun intended) that it is no longer acceptable to be ignorant about technology. If you are serious about your business you must be able to stay connected and communicate with others. Of course, there are many other signs that President Obama has his head screwed on straight when it comes to technology:

– Choosing a new FCC head, Julius Genachowski, who reportedly supports Net neutrality shows common sense (by the way, in chatting with the last FCC chairman, Kevin Martin, it was clear to me that he was for Net neutrality, too).

– Insisting that one of the most backward businesses in the U.S. begin using basic technology: The healthcare industry (okay, doctors) have resisted using computers for more than 20 years. But the truth is  that they kill too many people each year simply through clerical errors (never mind the amount of money that is wasted and information lost and not shared in those walls of useless paper files). Every other business in the country uses basic computer technology (even lawyers), and it's about time Theodoric of York did so as well. Universal use of e-prescriptions would be a good start.

– Spending $9 billion in the stimulus package to expand broadband Internet coverage in rural areas: Many rural areas remain poor simply because they lack Internet access. Why? Because no business–not even the romantic ideal of farming–can communicate properly with clients or suppliers without a high-speed connection (and in this world, a dial-up 46 kbps connection does not mean you have Internet access). I have one friend in the country who keeps an office in town just to use the Internet access (a waste of fuel and time). Others have moved from the country to the city simply because the home-based business they started wasn't feasible without a broadband connection.

Now if someone would just invent a more efficient solar panel and a rechargeable car battery that lasts forever, we might just get somewhere.


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About jquain

Technology reporter, writer, and television correspondent, JQ has been covering the computer, communications, and consumer electronics industries for more than 25 years.A contributor to The New York Times, Popular Mechanics, PC Magazine, U.S. News & World Report and many other publications, JQ appears on CBS News television program Up to the Minute and on Fox Business.
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