Fully vaccinated are you?
There have been a few interesting discussions lately about the US's place in the technology world. With our supposed fall in the broadband rankings combined with US university's recent poor showing in the ACM's programming contest, a number of folks are worried that the US is losing its technology edge. There is the argument that things aren't as bad as they might appear -- and it's tough to determine the state of the entire industry on these two, somewhat random, datapoints. However, there's no reason people shouldn't at least be thinking about ways to improve US competence in the technology field. The head of the ACM suggests that a few simple changes could make a huge difference, just by showing young people that the country cares about technology. For example, he notes that schools in other countries base some of their funding wins on how well they do in the ACM contest, and the Russian winners a few years ago got to meet with President Putin -- while President Bush seems to focus on congratulating sports winners. While having the President say hi to some CS students is a nice idea, it's hardly a real plan to push tech education forward. Last year, remember all those claims from both Presidential candidates about universal broadband? It didn't actually do very much to stimulate broadband at all. So, politicians saying things isn't quite the same as doing things. Meanwhile, some are noticing that the real broadband competition appears to be happening in Europe, where there isn't duopoly control over access -- though, it's also not clear that many of those companies competing will be able to survive for very long. The real trick is (a) understanding how important technology is, and what it's real impact is and (b) making sure nothing is impeding competition. Right now it's not clear that the US is doing the greatest job on both of those points -- but that doesn't mean we should rush into making big changes that will cause even more trouble either.