Technology (July 2009)

The uncertain future of journalism

The words of legendary newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer remain powerful: “Our Republic and its press will rise or fall together.” But in the 21st century, what we mean by “press” is very different from anything Pulitzer and newspaper barons 100 years ago ever imagined.

Bringing broadband to rural America

Today, driven by the incredible pace of innovation and the pressures of global commerce, demand for broadband, or high-speed Internet access, is sweeping the nation and changing the way we live. Small businesses that once relied solely on walk-up business and local customers may now offer their goods and services in the worldwide marketplace through the Internet. Students whose learning opportunities were once confined to their local schools and libraries today can access information from all over the world. Families once separated from loved ones by hundreds or thousands of miles can stay connected through the many communication portals available online. And, communities that previously lacked critical specialty care and diagnostic services can now access these services through telemedicine made possible by advanced communications networks.

Cybersecurity is national security

We rely on cyberspace to work, to bank, to shop, to keep in touch with friends and family, and for entertainment. And as our nation increases its reliance on cyberspace — transitioning to electronic health records, building a smart electrical grid, and increasing access to broadband — ensuring a secure cyberspace will only become more important.

NIST brings about harmony, structure

If you can’t measure it, it’s not real. While this axiom may not apply to affairs of the heart, it is certainly true in science and technology. Until we have a way to measure an item against a known standard, all we can do is take it on faith. Why is an inch an inch, a gallon a gallon, or a minute a minute? Because we have standards for what each of those terms mean. Once there are standards, we can rely on their consistency to build buildings that don’t fall down, bus schedules we all understand, and all of the other systems that form the foundation of our lives.

Numerous benefits of space exploration

Forty years ago the world watched in wonder as American astronauts blazed through Earth’s atmosphere into outer space and landed on the moon, the first time in history that humans set foot on another celestial body. But today, with the economy floundering and the national debt soaring into the stratosphere, some may suggest that we simply cannot afford to sustain human space exploration. I would argue just the opposite.