"white house" entries

White House Science Fair praises future scientists and makers

If we want kids to aspire to become scientists and technologists, celebrate academic achievement like athletics and celebrity.

There are few ways to better judge a nation’s character than to look at how its children are educated. What values do their parents, teachers and mentors demonstrate? What accomplishments are celebrated? In a world where championship sports teams are idolized and superstar athletes are feted by the media, it was gratifying to see science, students and teachers get their moment in the sun at the White House last week.

“…one of the things that I’m concerned about is that, as a culture, we’re great consumers of technology, but we’re not always properly respecting the people who are in the labs and behind the scenes creating the stuff that we now take for granted,” said President Barack Obama, “and we’ve got to give the millions of Americans who work in science and technology not only the kind of respect they deserve but also new ways to engage young people.”

President Obama at White House Science Fair

President Barack Obama talks with Evan Jackson, 10, Alec Jackson, 8, and Caleb Robinson, 8, from McDonough, Ga., at the 2013 White House Science Fair in the State Dining Room. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

An increasingly fierce global competition for talent and natural resources has put a premium on developing scientists and engineers in the nation’s schools. (On that count, last week, the President announced a plan to promote careers in the sciences and expand federal and private-sector initiatives to encourage students to study STEM.

“America has always been about discovery, and invention, and engineering, and science and evidence,” said the President, last week. “That’s who we are. That’s in our DNA. That’s how this country became the greatest economic power in the history of the world. That’s how we’re able to provide so many contributions to people all around the world with our scientific and medical and technological discoveries.”

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White House moves to increase public access to scientific research online

More federally funded research and data will be made freely available to the public online.

Today, the White House responded to a We The People e-petition that asked for free online access to taxpayer-funded research.

open-access-smallAs part of the response, John Holdren, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, released a memorandum today directing agencies with “more than $100 million in research and development expenditures to develop plans to make the results of federally-funded research publically available free of charge within 12 months after original publication.”

The Obama administration has been considering access to federally funded scientific research for years, including a report to Congress in March 2012. The relevant e-petition, which had gathered more than 65,000 signatures, had gone unanswered since May of last year.

As Hayley Tsukayama notes in the Washington Post, the White House acknowledged the open access policies of the National Institutes of Health as a successful model for sharing research. Read more…

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An innovation agenda to help people win the race against the machines

Policy recommendations to get the engines of democracy firing on all cylinders.

If the country is going to have a serious conversation about innovation, unemployment and job creation, we must talk about our race against the machines. For centuries, we’ve been automating people out of jobs. Today’s combination of big data, automation and artificial intelligence, however, looks like something new, from self-driving cars to e-discovery software to “robojournalism” to financial advisors to medical diagnostics. Last year, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen wrote that “software is eating the world.”

Computers and distributed systems are now demonstrating skills in the real world that we once thought would always be the domain of human beings. “That’s just not the case any more,” said MIT research professor Andrew McAfee, in an interview earlier this year at the Strata Conference in Santa Clara, Calif.:

McAfee and his research partner, MIT economics professor Erik Brynjolfsson, remain fundamentally optimistic about the effect of the digital revolution on the world economy. But the drivers of joblessness that they explore in their book, Race Against The Machine, deserved to have had more discussion in this year’s political campaign. Given the tepid labor market recovery in the United States and a rebound that has stayed flat, the Obama administration, given an opportunity for a second term, should pull some new policy levers.

What could — or should — the new administration do? On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of speaking at a panel at the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institute to talk about what a “First 100 Days Innovation Agenda” might look like for the new administration. (Full disclosure: earlier this year, I was paid to moderate a workshop that discussed this issue and contributed to the paper on building an innovation economy that was published this week.) The event was live streamed and is available on-demand.

Below are recommendations from the paper and from professors McAfee and Brynjolfsson, followed by the suggestions I made during the forum, drawing from my conversations with people around the United States on this topic over the past two years.

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President Obama participates in first Presidential AMA on Reddit

The President's participation in a user-driven Q&A was a notable precedent in digital democracy.

Starting around 4:30 PM ET today, President Barack Obama made history by going onto Reddit to answer questions about anything for an hour. Reddit, one of the most popular social news sites on the Internet, has been hosting “Ask Me Anything” forums — or AMAs – for years, including sessions with prominent legislators like Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), but to host a sitting President of the United States will elevate Reddit’s prominence in the intersection of technology and politics. AllThingsD has the story of Reddit got the President onto the site. Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian told Peter Kafka that “there are quite a few redditors at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave and at the campaign HQ — given the prominence of reddit, it’s an easy sell.”

President Obama made some news in the process, with respect to the Supreme Court decision that allowed super political action committees, or “Super PACs,” to become part of the campaign finance landscape.

“Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t revisit it),” commented President Obama. “Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight of the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change.”

President Obama announced that he’d be participating in the AMA in a tweet and provided photographic evidence that he was actually answering questions in an image posted to Reddit (above) and in a second tweet during the session.

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Top Stories: May 21-25, 2012

Top Stories: May 21-25, 2012

Digital government's new strategy, obsessive tracking vs open-ended motivation, gaming as a force for cultural transformation.

This week on O'Reilly: We learned how data, privacy and shared services are driving the White House's new digital government plan; Jim Stogdill examined the fine line between obsessive personal tracking and an open-ended approach to motivation; and author John Ferrara discussed gaming's role in cultural transformation.

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"The President of the United States is on the phone. Would you like to Hangout on Google+?"

"The President of the United States is on the phone. Would you like to Hangout on Google+?"

Can a Google+ Hangout bring the president closer to the citizens he serves?

President Obama will join the first presidential Hangout on Google+ on January 30, 2012, as part of the White House's commitment "to creating a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration."

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2011 Gov 2.0 year in review

2011 Gov 2.0 year in review

A look at the Gov 2.0 themes, moments and achievements that made an impact in 2011.

What Gov 2.0 issue mattered most in 2011? Disruption caused by an increasingly mobile and networked society certainly ranked high. Other key developments included a new Open Government Partnership, emerging civic media, open source adoption, new civic startups, the growth of open data, and fights over intellectual property and Internet freedom.

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The maker movement's potential for education, jobs and innovation is growing

The maker movement's potential for education, jobs and innovation is growing

"MAKE" founder Dale Dougherty was named a "Champion of Change" by the White House.

Dale Dougherty, one of the co-founders of O'Reilly Media, was honored by the White House as a "Champion of Change" for his work on "MAKE" Magazine, MakerFaire and the broader DIY movement.

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Historic global Open Government Partnership launches in New York City

Maria Otero, Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, talks about what to expect from the OGP.

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is an unprecedented global agreement between dozens of nations. In this podcast, Maria Otero, Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, talks about how open government is connected to economic activity and what citizens should expect from the OGP.

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There are bigger issues surrounding the .gov review

There are bigger issues surrounding the .gov review

The efforts behind .gov reform go beyond domain management.

The U.S. federal government's web reform effort isn't just about reducing the number of websites and saving associated design or maintenance costs. It's about improving citizens' access to information and services.

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