Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Death Star Struck

Now that under Sam Zell the writing quality of The Los Angeles Times has degenerated to the point of including this observation that "George Lucas was on Capitol Hill in Washington this week to testify on something or other and when there's no news to be heard, reporters start asking the silly questions," it seems that it would be difficult to assess the impact of events involving technology news at all, if that were one's only newspaper. I would never allow prose this bad in my sixth-graders homework, so I'm baffled to see it appear in a newspaper once known for its Pulitzer Prize-winning staff, even if these clunky phrases were being used to introduce some of the not-so-witty Star Wars-themed banter exchanged between Lucas and the congressional representatives.

Actually, it turns out that the subject matter of the congressional hearing is one that should be of interest to all bill-paying Americans, not just those with a social conscience about computer literacy who are engaged with questions about the so-called "digital divide": universal service schemes promoted by the government and the fees charged for this service to telecommunications customers that too often benefit service providers more than consumers. Ars Technica explains the substantive issues involved in the hearing here.

When I went to Lucas's statement before the House Committee on Telecommunications and the Internet, it was interesting to note that he emphasized the government as an exemplary content-creator for materials on the World Wide Web and singled out the Library of Congress and NASA for special praise. Lucas also talked about the "prosumer" model to explain the digital practices of today's youth, who also want to serve as content-creators themselves.

The testimony of Rey Ramsey is also of interest rhetorically, because it does more than draw attention to the philanthropically beloved issue of "digital youth" by looking about how low income "digital adults" need Internet services for basic e-Government functions and that this population needs connectivity for improved health and financial stability, as well as for educational purposes.

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