In Burlington Tuesday, state and local leaders will delve into Vermont’s digital future.
At a conference at Champlain College, they will discuss how to use broadband resources to promote economic opportunity and basic digital literacy in the state.
Governor Peter Shumlin will provide opening remarks, and Nicco Mele will be the keynote speaker.
Mele is now a faculty member at the Harvard Kennedy School, but back in 2004 he transformed how the Internet could be harnessed when he served on Howard Dean’s presidential campaign. Mele says much of Vermont’s digital future has already arrived.
"Small businesses in Vermont can compete globally and have global customers thanks to the internet. Even just the degree of connectivity and the availability of internet access has changed dramatically. That opens up all kinds of opportunities," Mele said.
Mele says political scientists are still trying to figure out what role social media will play in democracy and democratic elections.
"The technology radically empowers individuals. Just think about your phone, if you have an iPhone, or an Android, any of the smart phones, the kinds of things that are possible for a single person with a phone like that on their body were honestly unimaginable two decades ago," Mele said.
Mele says the divide in digital literacy in rural states like Vermont is a significant concern, but the real issue is the cost of connectivity.
The Digital Future conference is being hosted by e-Vermont Community Broadband Partnership.
It’s open to the public.