Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

The Best Part of Obama's Inaugural Speech

By Dennis D. McDonald

This was my favorite part of President Obama’s inaugural speech; I’ve emphasized what I think is the best phrase:

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.

I am enormously encouraged by these words. This vision statement has profound implications for how we think, live, work, and play. Despite financial issues associated with research policy and funding that government, academia, and industry must grapple with now in our sick economy, this is a bold statement of faith in human creativity and ingenuity.

As we have been told repeatedly, science and the fruits of science can be used for good or evil. But now we have people running our government that not only have a vision but a good vision. I am mightily encouraged. I look forward to supporting accomplishment of this vision.

Note also Obama’s reference to “electric grids and digital lines.” There’s a lot behind those words. I encourage those interested to review The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation’s January 7, 2009 report The Digital Road to Recovery: A Stimulus Plan to Create Jobs, Boost Productivity and Revitalize America. This is what the ITIF web site says about this report:

As Congress considers a substantial stimulus package to get the economy moving, investing in new economy digital infrastructures will provide significant opportunities not just for short-term stimulus and job creation, but also longer term economic and social benefits. In the report, “The Digital Road to Recovery: A Stimulus Plan to Create Jobs, Boost Productivity and Revitalize America,” ITIF provides a detailed analysis and estimate of the short-term jobs impacts of spurring investment in three critical digital networks: broadband networks, the smart grid (making the electric distribution system intelligent) and health IT, and outlines policy steps to spur this investment.

I was particularly interested in listening to the podcast of the session where this report was discussed and the methodology for estimating job impacts of technology spending was described. The analysis makes use of “network effects” multipliers that, applied on top of direct and indirect job creation figures, attempt to estimate the impacts on job creation of work and information that are enabled and leveraged through technology. (For a brief review of basic concepts associated with “network effects multipliers” read Assigning Value to Network Effects on the Web.)

Having been involved many times during my career in estimating cost impacts, market sizes, and other quantitative measures of activity, I know how easy it is to “throw darts” at such estimates; In this case, I’m happy to say, the figures used in the ITIF reports are documented and available for review.

Copyright (c) 2009 by Dennis D. McDonald, Ph.D.

A Panel Discussion, "Internet Technology in the Obama Age"

A Panel Discussion, "Internet Technology in the Obama Age"

SURVEY: Should the U.S. Government Delay Transition to Digital TV?