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Bill Bradley for President Technology & Governance Proposal Outline

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From: David Boulton []
Sent: Tuesday, January 11, 2000 2:44 AM
To: John Vasconcellos; John Vasconcellos
Subject: Proposal sketches


What follows is not ready for Bradley. It’s for you and for the others you consider potential participants in your ‘Bradley-IT team’


The issue isn’t how to use the Internet as a tool for helping get Bradley (or anyone else) elected, its what is America’s leadership role in applying this technology to the maximum benefit of everyone? How shall we make use of this new technology such that it furthers the cause of participative democracy, serves the American Vision and empowers our people?

When people of succeeding centuries and millennia look back on the last half of the 20th Century and the beginning of the 3rd Millennium they will think of this time as the beginning of the age of virtuality(1) – as the time when computers and the web combined to give birth to an entirely new kind of technology enabled, yet deeply human, social infrastructure.

From the grocery store to the stock market, technology is revolutionizing every aspect of our lives. Within a few years virtually every person in the united states will have devices in their homes, schools, work places, libraries and public spaces that will enable them to access and benefit from the opportunities and resources of the internet.

I am suggesting that an opportunity exists for Bradley to galvanize voters by providing visionary leadership regarding the role of government in the evolution of technology and, relatedly, the role of technology in the evolution of government. The right new social vision for the technology is, in itself, a powerful, fresh and still open-to-claim vision-proposition for getting elected.

Proposal #1…

Like the Space Program’s Man on the Moon Mission – long range, a call to industry as well as government, a socially mobilizing vision, a bold goal for the evolution of mankind and a stimulus to the economy.

Like the Human Genome Project – long range, scientifically credible, recognizes the value of its leverage to uncountable endeavors.

Like the Library of Congress – vastness, the nation’s most implicate index.

Like PBS – commercial free, a resource for everyone to learn from.

National educational technology challenge: A PBS for the WEB: The Planetary Learning Library (PLL) (1). A place where anyone can go to understand anything they might be interested in, when they wish to do it, and without cost. Think of it as a national(2) on-line supplement to the education system from Kindergarten through University (both as a resource for the people who work in education as well as for the individuals wanting to learn).

Like PBS there would be no commercials, no banners, no bandwidth drag for any reason other than the content intended. Unlike PBS this space would be alive – its content/knowledge/meaning wouldn’t just be broadcast rather it would be made available in ways designed to foster interactive learning. It would enable people to join in distributed dialogues about the range of meanings and implications associated with any ‘human understanding’. In effect a system that enables anyone who is interested in learning about anything to be able to enter whatever it is “_____.dia”(1)and enter a space devoid of any intent or content except that related to the sincere attempt to resource that individual's inquiry into understanding what is known and what is under dialogue about that _____.

Conceptually it might look like: a .dia(1) extension to the web that uses content organizing link-structure-standards that the browsers dynamically reconfigure themselves to on entry into the .dia1 space. The browsers would thus transform into learner-interface portals able to travel along explication or implication paths, rubrinate through alternative representations, contextually relevant references and engage in auto-context synchronized distributed dialogues with anyone else in meaning space of a particular interest or need.

Obviously, this project is complex and I realize that there are many obstacles. I would argue that the obstacles are less than those faced when Kennedy proposed the moon mission, that they are less technically complex than mapping the human genome and that the project as a whole has the potential to do as much good for as many people as both of them.

There is much more I have to say on the subject – how to seed crystal its growth, how to design the interface, how to provide it with a distributed dialogue infrastructure… More on all that as the occasions warrant.

Proposal #2…

Inspire and lead a national dialogue that seeks to develop a policy illuminating vision regarding the role of technology in the evolution of government and the role of government in the evolution of technology.

Our government is a social-mediation machine (a low-tech WEB), the architecture and engineering of which is based on the number of representatives and frequency of congressing that was technically possible in the days of horse based transportation and mail delivery. If we were to start over today and envision a new democracy that was design-enabled by the frequency and quality of citizen participation that modern technology makes possible what would it look like?

The future of humanity is being significantly influenced in every way and at every level by technology – who has it and who doesn’t – what it could do in principal and what it will do constrained to the narrow economic interests of a few multi-national corporations. Given the enormous potential of technology prudence demands that we get conscious, beyond the marketplace’s invisible hand, to how and where to steward the technology’s stewarding of us.

This dialogue would result in proposals for how the US should be involved with the emerging world of technology in the 21st Century. These might include:

National Cyberspace Agency(1)

Analogous to the Department of Transportation, NASA and the Department of the Treasury this agency would:

Develop strategies that could inform national policy on how to best leverage the emerging technologies to the benefit of national and international democracy.

Develop strategies that could inform national policy regarding the legal infrastructure of the emerging cyberworld.

Develop strategies for the US playing the role of strategic vision/venture capitalist with emerging technologies that have significant social or economic benefit.

Develop a new form of ‘voting’ on issues that is above ‘tampering’ suspicion and that is based on a frequency appropriate to the issues at hand not the term of the representatives involved.

Prototype a parallel representational democracy system (initially like non PAC driven governmental focus groups) that uses the web to enable people of common national and local interests to join and/or form constituencies and elect representatives responsible for facilitating ongoing distributed dialogues within the constituencies - dialogues that facilitate the mutual learning and actions of its members and that feed a different granularity of intelligence into the existing governmental system.

Here again there are many more things to add and to discuss. But I will leave it here until we get first reactions.

John, again my apologies for the delay. I hope this is sufficient a sketch to take next steps with. Let me know how you want to proceed.


1) I am not attached to any names or labels. I have used PLL, .dia and National Cyberspace Agency as placeholders.

2) Possibly proposed as a United Nations project so everyone in the world with the (ever more inexpensively available) technology can participate, benefit from the learning it makes possible. This also positions Bradley as someone leading the US toward leading the WORLD. It also helps make news about the idea and Bradley’s proposal of it -international news and international technical news.  It’s a way to contribute to the world significantly and cost-effectively and calls us into a working relationship with the rest of the world about human learning and how to responsibly facilitate and resource it.

3) For brevity I have made reference to some of my own earlier concepts some of the terms I have used like ‘learner interface’ most people will not be familiar with and will need to be replaced with long hand versions should we take this to next steps.

Vasconcellos / Bradley after the above

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