We should point out the potential of powerful and existing network technology to the public. The tax-paying, voting public. The special issue of Scientific American selected for GSLIS 200 is an excellent example. It gets the reader excited about how technology could improve all aspects of society in the future--from medicine to shopping to libraries--then lets the reader know that everything described in every article is already invented, already tested, and is merely waiting for some political policy to make it legal, safe, and affordable.
Typically, software development follows hardware development, and policy lags behind both. Yet it is policy that can determine whether we reap the benefits of this new technology. In too many cases, we have mastered the technology but failed to muster the political commitment and the appropriate policies (Gore, 110).
The technological hardware and software for the next generation of information professionals is already being mastered as we wait for a national information policy that would organize, legalize, and pay for its implementation. While conflicting interests in the `United' States bicker, other nations are happy to construct their own national networks based on America's unrealized information system specifications. Much of the bickering is among the owners of installed communications networks, who stand to lose some money in the installation of a system that might ultimately benefit them. According to Al Gore,
The most effective way to break the stalemate would be to show the American people what fiber-optic networks could offer them. Most Americans are only vaguely familiar with even existing networks, yet they rely on networks every day. Everyone, from shoppers at the checkout counter to consumers making a withdrawal at an automated teller machine, is dealing with a computer through a network (Gore, 111).
The information profession should invest its educational efforts in a young, less technophobic generation. A publicity or public outreach program in the elementary schools could encourage kids to value information and the technological tools that manipulate it. When this younger generation grows to vote, they will take an interest in the National Information Policy.