Dispatches from the federal blogosphere: Apple's iPad, broadband and blogging advice

A Blogger on Blogging
Wayne Hale’s Blog
Feb. 8, 2010

Wayne Hale, deputy associate administrator of strategic partnerships at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, recently took an opportunity to reflect on his year-plus experience as a blogger.

Lesson No. 1: Make it personal. Hale is clear that his blog is his and his alone. “Nobody writes my blog but me," he writes. "I’m responsible for the content, spelling, fact-checking and any errors that appear.”

He takes a dim view of blogs that lack an individual voice. “I have read other blogs that are clearly written by public relations flacks, and those blogs are obvious advertisements or press releases dressed up to look like a blog,” he writes. “I wouldn’t be a party to that sort of a blog.”

He also makes a point that might serve as a word of caution for other would-be federal bloggers. “Blogging is not my foremost work assignment; I really have a full plate of other things to do,” he writes. “Blogging is sort of a sidelight for me, and my blog is mostly written outside normal work hours.”

Broadband’s National Hookup: Part 1
Feb. 1, 2010

One method for delivering the economic and civic benefits of broadband Internet access to people nationwide is the wireless networks that smart phones and other portable devices use. Two government experts who are helping to craft the National Broadband Plan, mandated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, sound an alarm in the plan’s official blog about the need to prevent growing demand from clogging wireless networks.

They use the recent introduction of Apple’s iPad tablet computer, which will use cell phone networks for mobile Internet access, to note the proliferation of wireless devices and the growing user preference for that style of connectivity. The iPad has sparked reports of networks getting overburdened by a data flow they were never built to handle.

“These problems are reminiscent of the congestion dial-up users experienced following AOL’s 1996 decision to allow unlimited Internet use,” writes Phil Bellaria, director of scenario planning, and John Leibovitz, deputy chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.

The problems can be avoided through wise management of the radio spectrum that carriers use to deliver their service, the writers say. The National Broadband Plan will suggest ways of moving more spectrum into high-value uses, such as broadband access.

Broadband’s National Hookup: Part 2
Vermont CTO Blog
Jan. 31, 2010

The National Broadband Plan will provide broad guidance and some specific funding to expand Internet access nationally, but there are still a lot of tough decisions to make at the state and local level about getting broadband into every household and business across the land.

Tom Evslin, Vermont's chief technology officer, writes in his blog about his support for a state plan that would direct about $3 million of discretionary federal stimulus money to pay for extending broadband to the last 5 percent of residents who otherwise would go unserved. It’s been a tough sell given the state’s $153 million budget gap.

But he argues that broadband investments in these hard-to-reach areas will pay dividends in terms of future tax revenue and will make the state a more attractive place to live, work and raise families.

“These are often places where housing is cheap and space is available at a reasonable price for new businesses,” Evslin writes. “These are places where economic development is needed. These are places where economic development can occur — but not without broadband.”

iPad and the Future of USPS
USPS Office of Inspector General
Feb. 8, 2010

The U.S. Postal Service’s inspector general is also pondering the iPad and what it might mean for one of the agency’s revenue streams: catalogs, newspapers and other periodicals.

Unlike other portable reading devices now on the market, the iPad comes with a color display, and others are sure to follow suit. For catalogs, newspaper advertisers and other publishers, who want their goods to be seen in the best possible light, that’s a big plus.

The question, however, is whether consumers are ready to make the switch. So USPS' IG is asking readers to weigh in: When will we see the widespread migration of newspapers and magazines to tablet computers? And are readers ready to give up print catalogs for digital versions?

An informal survey on the site suggests that most people do not expect big changes in the near future. More than half of the respondents said newspaper and magazine readers would not go digital for another five years or longer.

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