July 18, 2003 · admin
On the road, I�ve seen the power the Internet has to bring people together. In Austin recently, 3,200 people showed up for a rally�an experience that I found absolutely amazing. In Santa Fe, 2,000 people showed up, and in Seattle and Tucson, thousands showed up. All of these rallies were organized over the Internet. Only a few years ago building such an event would have taken months of preparation and a huge field staff. Today, it can be done online, and mostly by volunteers.
I think that is a demonstration of how the Internet can help us restore active participation in our democracy. But in order to include everyone in the process, we need to expand net access to rural areas and to the inner city. Currently, too many minorities and rural residents are on the wrong side of the “digital divide.”
As governor of Vermont, I made expanding internet access a priority. Vermont is a national leader, with over 99% of our schools connected to the Internet. In rural states like Vermont, the Internet can make a real difference by providing telemedicine and telework opportunities, as well as distance learning.
As a community that actively discusses these issues, I�m interested in your opinions on how to best bridge the digital divide. The US ranks 11th in the world on broadband penetration. How do we bring broadband to more people in the most cost-effective manner? What role will WiFi play? I understand that the emerging technology of WiFi may make it easier to bridge the digital divide. What would your recommendations be?
Once again, I�d like to thank Larry Lessig for inviting me this week, and I appreciate your feedback. Stay involved. Help us widen the circle. We are going to restore the American community�online and off�by working together. Thanks again, Howard Dean