John Klossner

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Klossner: Local traffic only

chart I live in a small town (pop. 7,500-ish) in southern Maine. The street
I live on is a small side street just outside of the town center.
This street attaches to one of the main thoroughfares in our burb.
Let me rephrase that --  the only thoroughfare in our town. This means
my street becomes a de-facto bypass when we have backups caused by
morning, afternoon, and all-summer-long rush hours. (I know many of
you live in the greater D.C. area. Please don't laugh when I use the
term "rush hour.")

My town has dealt with this issue by putting signs at the end of my
street that say "Local Traffic Only." To the best of my knowledge, in
the nine years I have lived here no one has ever been cited, or even
stopped, for being a nonlocal traveller. Heck, I don't even know if
anyone notices the signs any more. This has become my personal poster
child (sign child?) for unenforceable measures. If the town doesn't
want nonresidents to drive on my street (which is probably
vulnerable on a legal basis) they have sure picked a quiet way to
show it. Personally, I would rather have back the one-foot wide by
two feet high visual space that the sign now blocks.

This brings me to this week's editorial subject. The presidential
candidates have been vague regarding plans for innovation in
government technology.

First off, I'm not so sure that this is such a major issue for the
majority of voters. Granted, I'd give my vote to the candidate who
promised capital punishment for the person who keeps sending me
Angelina Jolie videos spam, but I don't expect to hear it in any of
the convention speeches this week.

A recent Brookings Institution study found that the United States
lagged behind other nations in technology advances, including
percentages of citizens with broadband access. I noticed that many of
the nations on that list ahead of the United States were countries whose
government installed the broadband, as opposed to letting private
industry do it. To refer back to my small Maine community again, I
don't think making the two-block downtown wireless would lead any local
government to-do lists, much less get folks excited on a state or
federal level. (To make it relevant, if a candidate proposed
installing a broadband system that would heat homes this winter,
they'd be elected king for life.)

Also, let's face it. It's hard to make promises regarding technology
because the darn things usually clash with existing policies. As an
example, everyone is hot to install Web 2.0 technologies in their
workplace right now, forgetting that so far these very technologies
have mixed security standards. People who have expertise with
technology have troubles making this work -- how do we expect a
candidate, who has one or two other pressing issues on his mind, to
make a cutting-edge proposal?

Would it be helpful if the candidates' came right out and said
"Sorry, tech people. This doesn't rise to the top of the list. You'll
have to trust me after I get elected. Maybe I'll see if I can get
sworn in by e-mail, just to put you at ease?"

So, like the unenforceable sign that sits on the end of my street, I
don't put stock in the candidates' technology promises. I'll just
wait for the blog posting on Jan. 21, 2009. chart

Posted by John Klossner on Sep 02, 2008 at 12:18 PM


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