Wow. I just watched the dvr’d version of Obama’s remarks. Wow. Two things are remarkable to me as I sit here and think about what I just saw. First, his remarks are stitched together with both subtle and outright references to the mother of all government information sources: the constitution and bill of rights. Have I been such a cynic for so long when I listen to our politicians that I have forgotten the civic wonder contained within that foundational document? Second, or perhaps I was equally stunned to hear a politician who can think in complete, metaphoric, and appealing sentences. I do not remember him once glancing down at any notes, or obviously towards a teleprompter. What’s more, is it just me, or has nearly thirty years of banging the drum of “the government is the problem, not the solution.” rant really deaden any sense of optimism in most of us? To hear one of our presidents speak of a government with such positive (and realistic) tone — why does it feel like walking into a bright shining patch of sunlight after toiling so long through a dark and confusing forest?
I can understand much better how the promise of this one politician married to the reach and power of the information technologies that it seems we have rediscovered the ruins of our humble information tribe’s former city. Documents to the people indeed.
I can only redouble my urgency and encourage all of you to contribute to the great discussion now being joined about the future of the federal depository library program. This is the first president, and perhaps the first congress as well, who share in a civic vision where the expansiveness of the democratic and civic possibilities of a well ordered digital library system just might be in reach.
Before I return with a gimlet-eyed weariness to the civic project, I am going to enjoy this moment of rediscovered idealism in the democratic experiment.
See you on Day 4.
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