Filter looks at the day's top technology news through snapshots and analysis of what the world's media outlets are covering. Washingtonpost.com's new Mon.-Fri. feature is penned by technology reporter Cynthia L. Webb. If a technology story breaks, a company falters or triumphs, or there's a new trend in technology, Filter wants you to know about it.
Here's how to boost the economy by $500 billion and create a million jobs: Adopt tax incentives for small-business investment, extend a tax break for research and development and promote the universal availability of high-speed Internet access. Quick -- which presidential candidate are we talking about? Well, in this case presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, not that those broad brush strokes are a whole lot different than anything the Bush-Cheney '04 team has proposed.
Kerry highlighted his ideas for kick-starting the economy while on what The Washington Post described as "two days of intense fundraising and campaigning on the West Coast and in the Midwest."
"This technological revolution is the foundation of a 21st-century economy. But it's up to us to build on that foundation so that we can create and expand 21st-century jobs," Kerry told an audience of mostly students at San Jose State University. "We won't get very far with a government that wants to stifle or ignore the creativity and entrepreneurship that will produce the next big idea. We need to encourage it and invest in it."
And President Bush? "Meanwhile, President Bush highlighted his own proposals for encouraging development of new technologies and spreading high-speed Internet access during an appearance at the Commerce Department, where he took part in demonstrations of broadband and wireless technologies. 'What we're interested in is to make sure broadband technology is available in every corner of America by the year 2007,' Bush said. He said that could happen by keeping the Internet free of access taxes, and by developing Internet technologies over power lines and wireless systems."
The Washington Post: Kerry Touts His Plans For High-Tech Industry (Registration required)
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Kerry brought a dinosaur with him to the new-economy leg of the campaign trail: "'I'm here today because our country needs a change in leadership,' [Lee Iacocca], the former head of Chrysler and Ford, told a morning crowd at San Jose State University. 'I was deeply involved in the (2000) Bush campaign, stumping for him in Michigan and Pennsylvania. ... But this year, I'm supporting John Kerry.'" The lesson of this story: You can teach an old dog new tricks.
San Francisco Chronicle: Kerry Offers Silicon Valley Solutions
And the San Jose Mercury News tells it like it is: "Kerry and Bush do not differ radically on their approach to broadband. Kerry would rely more on giving tax credits to the companies that build the networks in rural areas or at faster speeds anywhere in the country, while Bush focuses more on removing regulatory obstacles. 'Tech issues really do not break down on partisan lines,' said Rick White, the chief executive of TechNet, a bipartisan advocacy group for the high-tech industry. The group estimates that building a network could spur the creation of 1.2 million jobs nationwide." Quite charitable of Mr. White, considering he is a former Republican congressman who at one time represented Microsoft Corp.'s district in Washington state.
San Jose Mercury News: Kerry tells S.J. audience of broadband-access plan (Registration required)
Calling All Canvassers
There's no shortage of news features these days expounding the fun, new interactive ways to breathe fresh life into the campaign trail. Problem is, many of these stories are dry retreads of the "isn't technology great/cool/fun/etc" genre. The Dallas Morning News took a fresh approach to this topic, however, producing what is indeed a cool feature on using cell phones to promote get-out-the-vote efforts among the 18- to 24-year-old set. "'As a way to engage in complex political discourse, it is probably not the most useful tool,' said Robert Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University. But for 'drive-by' messages, such as encouraging people to vote, Mr. Thompson said the messages will have greater success. Companies are gearing up for that drive-by pass."
Dallas Morning News: Voter Drives Going Cellular to Rally 18- to 24-Year-Olds (Registration required)
The Seattle Times today produced a story on Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates's tentative plans to run his own blog. This will not, apparently, be quite the dry read that "Business @ the Speed of Thought" was, the newspaper reported: "Bill's blog won't be all business, either. He's expected to share personal details such as tidbits from recent vacations, according to tech pundit Mary Jo Foley's Microsoft Watch newsletter. Citing unnamed sources, she reported yesterday that Gates is about to start blogging 'real soon now.' Microsoft spokesman Mark Murray would not confirm the story, but left open the possibility, saying, 'Bill would love to do his own blog at some point in the future, time permitting.'"
The Seattle Times: Bill Gates Could Join the Ranks of Bloggers
Remembering Bob Bemer
In the complex world of computer languages and code, ASCII is a veritable oasis of simplicity. That is what computer pioneer Bob Bemer, who died on June 22, will be remembered for. The BBC referred to him as the man who invented the "Esperanto of the technology world," the "American Standard Code for Information Interchange," or "ASCII." It's just the basics, as the BBC noted: "A common underlying code for alphanumeric characters to enable computers to communicate more easily."
The Washington Post obit had this: "Without the invention of the computer code ASCII, there would be no e-mail, no World Wide Web, no laser printers and no video games. Mr. Bemer ... created the code in 1961 by assigning standard numeric values to letters, numbers, punctuation marks and other characters. 'We had over 60 different ways to represent characters in computers,' Mr. Bemer told Computerworld magazine in 1999, describing the time before the American Standard Code for Information Interchange was created."
BBC News: Key computer coding creator dies The Washington Post: Obituary: Computer Pioneer Bob Bemer, 84 (Registration required)
Cindy Webb is off today and Monday. She will return on Tuesday.
Filter is designed for hard-core techies, news junkies and technology professionals alike. Have suggestions, cool links or interesting tales to share? Send your tips and feedback to cindyDOTwebbATwashingtonpost.com.