Those of us who live in America are currently in the midst of that most protracted, expensive and (often) tedious of all democratic processes: the quadrennial quest to find, and perhaps even elect, the most able leader to guide the nation into the future. Part and parcel to that spectacle is a seemingly endless torrent of printed words and video. These emanate from more than a dozen candidates, each of whom is trying to convince the electorate that he or she is The One, while at the same time hoping to avoid offering any point of vulnerability that can be exploited by the opposition.
It is an overwhelming and leveling experience for all concerned, electorate and candidates alike.
Out of the campaign cacophony of the last week emerged a handful of words from Senator and Democratic party hopeful Barack Obama that could not fail to catch my attention. He used them during the presidential debate held in Las Vegas, and they also appear in the "Innovation Agenda" that Obama had released a few days before. He announced this agenda in a speech he delivered on November 14 at an aptly selected venue: the Google campus in Mountainview, California. One of the pledges he made in the course of that speech reads in part as follows:
To seize this moment, we have to use technology to open up our democracy. It's no coincidence that one of the most secretive Administrations in history has favored special interests and pursued policies that could not stand up to sunlight. As President, I'll change that. I'll put government data online in universally accessible formats. [emphasis added]
A presidential candidate that is including "universally accessible formats" in his platform? How did that come about?