Another Historical Reflection on Current Technology Policy Debate

Slashdot links to a nice bit of history by Glenn Fleishman. The technology in question was electricity and the debate was also over its distribution and adoption, much like the current broadband debate. This 1900s antecedent even had a killer application spurring the discussion, lighting, that threatened the incumbent, providers of gas lighting.

As Fleishman explains, though, the ultimate consequences of electrification, as we well know now, went far beyond just that one application.

Undoubtedly, you see where I’ve been going with all this. Broadband in 2009 is electricity in 1900. We may think we know all the means to which high-speed Internet access may be put, but we clearly do not: YouTube and Twitter prove that new things are constantly on the way and will emerge as bandwidth and access continues to increase.

It isn’t hard to see parallels to FDR’s quality of life, either, especially as more government agencies, local and federal, take advantage of the network to improve quality and availability of key civic services.

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