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We know that under Bush II, and possibly under Clinton, America started to lag behind the world in Internet speed and usage — an issue that has been blamed on the fact that the administration generally sides with telecommunications companies, and that there was little pressure to innovate and grow when companies were profiting comfortably without much competition. And while the U.S. is the world leader in tech innovation and continues to set the standard in many areas, other countries are slowly catching up and sometimes outpacing the U.S. One example would be hybrid vehicles, where Japan has taken the lead, or alternative energy, where European countries are well-ahead.
There is also the education side of the equation, and the U.S. currently lags behind most developed countries when it comes to teaching math and science, while its universities boast some of the highest tuitions in the world.
Just as Obama will be challenged fixing the economy, extricating the U.S. from two wars, and providing health care to all Americans, he will also have to work to restore America’s technical edge.
According to CNet author Stephanie Condon, Obama is a mixed bag on the technology front.
The president-elect likes the concept of open source, and is against the rigid confines of copyright laws and patents that appear to be stifling innovation, “while ensuring that intellectual property owners are fairly treated.” He has supported the concept that would allow people to make a single backup copy of a DVD, CD or game that is legally purchased.
He is also for public investment in the broadband network, entering a game once left entirely to the private sector — and botched badly if current Internet speed and usage statistics are compared to countries like Korea, Japan, the U.K., and so on.
There was also an interesting comparison on Obama and McCain at www.sciencedebate2008.com that allowed voters to compare candidates’ answers to a questionnaire but it should be noted that both candidates passed on the opportunity to have a science debate.
Website of the Week — The death of low tech is inevitable, but sometimes painful. Last week, Stern Pinball (www.sternpinball.com), the last manufacturer of pinball machines in the world, announced plans to layoff several workers and designers and there were rumours that Stern may actually close its doors. As a fan of pinball, and former addict of the Addam’s Family and Funhouse pinball games, this was a hard announcement to take.