Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The State of the Union Address and Digital Inclusion

Last night, President Obama gave the traditional State of the Union Address to the nation.The president addressed the nation in regard to jobs, the budget and foreign policy. We were pleasantly surprised to hear about new usage of technology and communication that is planned by the white house, his commitment to expand wireless coverage and most importantly his focus on investment in technology.

His first mention of new usage of the internet by the white house was mentioned as a way to improve transparency.

That's why -- for the first time in history -- my administration posts on our White House visitors online. That's why we've excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs, or seats on federal boards and commissions

In that same thought of transparency, but with regard to the budget, he outlined the following:

"But restoring the public trust demands more. For example, some members of Congress post some earmark requests online. (Applause.) Tonight, I'm calling on Congress to publish all earmark requests on a single Web site before there's a vote, so that the American people can see how their money is being spent. (Applause.)

The single most important statements dedicated to a future goal dealt with high-speed wireless coverage.

Within the next five years, we will make it possible for business to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98% of all Americans. This isn’t just about a faster internet and fewer dropped calls. It’s about connecting every part of America to the digital age. It’s about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will be able to sell their products all over the world. It’s about a firefighter who can download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device; a student who can take classes with a digital textbook; or a patient who can have face-to-face video chats with her doctor.

While the shout out to Google and Facebook was a sign of the times, it really was his repeated focus on innovation and our potential to do more that we found most valuable.

We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It’s how we make a living.

One interesting place where he left the talk of online integration was in education, which for us, seems like a wasted opportunity.

We know that investment and innovation are not cheap. While President Obama's vision for America is a grand one, whether or not Congress and the Senate will approve a budget to work with him to see this vision through is still to be seen.

This is our generation’s Sputnik moment.

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