One of my favorite podcasts is Buzz Out Loud, a weekday live video stream and podcast from CNET.com that reports, analyzes, and banters about the tech news of the day. This past week, they conducted an interview with Federal CTO Aneesh Chopra, which I just finished listening to today.
The entire interview was quite interesting, but there were two particular discussions that struck me.
The first one was about broadband penetration: the Buzz Out Loud podcasters wanted to know what plans, if any, were being made to promote the rollout of broadband to those areas where such service was limited or unavailable. Chopra said that they hoped to address that issue with a national broadband plan due to be revealed in February 2010, but he said that his personal focus was more on encouraging innovation in developing applications that would further the adoption and development of a robust broadband infrastructure. In other words, it's not just about building the infrastructure for people, businesses, and government organizations to have, but creating compelling applications of that infrastructure that bring people on board and give them more reasons for wanting ubiquitous Internet access.
As web/Internet application developers, we tend to think of broadband, high bandwith, and Internet access as the infrastructure that allows us to build robust applications. It's kind of exciting to look at it the other way around, that creating useful, effective, compelling applications that people want (or perhaps even need) could promote and justify the expanse of the broadband infrastructure.
The second discussion was in response to a viewer question about the use of open source software within government agencies (SUSE and RedHat were specifically mentioned). Chopra said that that was really in the federal CIO's arena of concern, but that he personally was more interested in promoting the principles of "open collaboration" and the "sharing of intellectual property as we build value." He went on to explain that what he meant by that was that he didn't care so much if an application built for the government was built on a proprietary platform so long as that application became shared intellectual property between government agencies. That again was another point that I hadn't heard anyone make before.
I'd encourage anyone who has an interest in how the federal government hopes to leverage technology to the country's advantage to listen to this podcast episode. You can watch the video version or listen to the audio version, either streaming or as a download, at the following address: