The Digital Divide


Well, this is both revealing and hilarious:

Once, in the spring of 2001, I was invited by then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to address the Senate Democratic caucus. I outlined the three digital divides facing the Democrats:

1. The fact that Republicans were outspending them on technology and out-organizing them: you could give $50 once to a Republican congressional candidate and thanks to their brilliant use of databases and their willingness to share data, every Republican candidate in the country would have your name. (Meanwhile, it was only a few months ago that the DNC reached an agreement with the DCCC and DSCC to share voter data.)

2. The fact that Democrats were voting against bills to increase spending on broadband infrastructure, which was like voting against a subsidy for their own base–since it's the less well-off who are less likely to be online.

3. The fact that no one was thinking about measuring the technology quotient in any piece of legislation: Would this program be made obsolete by new technology, could it be enhanced, etc.

Here are two responses I got. First Senator Dianne Feinstein raised her hand and said, "Senator Daschle, the Internet is full of pornography and pedophilia, and until that's clean up [sic], I don't think the Senate should be on the Internet." (And she represents Silicon Valley!) Afterwards, another senator came up to me and said, "Andrew, I get 10,000 emails a day into my office. How do I make it stop?"

Hat tip: Atrios.