John Klossner

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Klossner: The Good Old Days

This morning I was getting a bagel and juice, and asked if the song being played in the bakery -- "Cynical Girl," by Marshall Crenshaw -- was radio, satellite radio or personal taste. The young woman behind the counter smiled loudly and said "Satellite. I love the '80s!" I suppressed the urge to say "Then I guess you've never heard REO Speedwagon," smiled back and secretly thanked her for the excessive cream cheese.


She isn't alone in her preference. The '80s seem to be the flavor of the month in our culture. Movies, music, and TV shows abound with '80s references. '80s icons Madonna, David Hasselhoff, Star Wars and Donald Rumsfeld have all found new lives at the turn of the century. I read somewhere that part of the fascination with that decade is technology based -- the '80s is viewed as the "pre-information" decade, a time when everyone wasn't wired, and therefore not expected to have all information at their finger tips. Maybe this leads to a view of it as a more innocent era -- a less-informed community that had more time for Jane Fonda workout tapes.
 
Interesting that, in our "connected" age, people are attracted to a "less connected" time, eh?


This brings us to this week's editorial issue, the Census Bureau's decision to back away from technological goals for nonresponse follow-up counts in the 2010 census and return to a paper-based count. On the surface, this seems as if census wasn't comfortable with the new technologies -- handheld computers -- and went back to something they knew -- paper. An initial thought was that this was a reverse evolution.



It came out, however, that this decision was based on Census not being able to get requirements for the handhelds to the manufacturer in time, despite warnings from Congress and the manufacturer. I would say this is just part of the process of creating technologies for nationwide deployment.
 
Census is bound to be a complex and slow process, with several missteps, and when the Census is a technologically efficient operation in 20 or 30 years, then this little bump will be all but forgotten. However, this move will increase the cost of the next census by $2 to $3 billion dollars and, as the saying goes, a billion here and a billion there and pretty soon you're talking about real money.


Posted by John Klossner on Apr 14, 2008 at 12:18 PM


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