The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land.
With these words, General John A. Logan, of the Grand Army of the Republic, proclaimed the first Decoration Day, later to become Memorial Day, a day on which we, in the U.S. honor those who have died in battle. The official national holiday was proclaimed in 1971 by President Richard Nixon, in the National Holiday Act of 1971 (Public Law 93-363), which established a number Mondays as national holidays, creating for three-day weekends. My son will be home from school, today, though my daughter works for six hours at her summer job.
I wish I could say that I learned and remembered all of this in my history classes, or even as a history teacher. But, alas, there is no need. There’s Google. A quick request from my Google textbook, put me in contact with the US Embassy in Moscow, where I found a large number of hyperlinks to other resources about the history and observances of Memorial Day.
To what degree has my laptop become an extension of my brain, and by result, of my actions? To what degree have we as people and as a culture become dependent on the great inter-network, in our daily lives? I suspect that the extent is somewhere between substantial and indispensable — closer to indispensable. Yet we continue to base our investments in classroom technologies on the evidence that it helps students learn curriculum that, in most cases, is older than the Internet.
Another document that came to my attention this weekend was Home Broadband Adoption 2006, from the PEW Internet & American Life Project (Horrigan). According to the report, 60 million U.S. citizens had access to broadband Internet in their homes in 2005. Today, it is up to 84 million home broadband users, an increase of 40%. A significant amount of this increase came from new Internet users who skipped dialup Internet, and went straight into high-speed.
Of particular interest were the demographics. For instance, of the age groupings, the increase in broadband was greatest for people over 65, with a 63% increase. The next was the 18-29 age groups with an increase of 45%. Among African Americans, the increase was a whopping 121%. Today 31% of blacks and 41% of English speaking hispanics have broadband at home, compared to 42% of whites.
Many of the percentage increases came from sectors that were previously on the lower end of broadband usage, where modest increases showed high percentage gains. One exception was a comparison between urban, suburban, and rural citizens. The increases were virtual identical, with nearly 50% penetration in our cities, and only 25% penetrating in the rest of the country.
In my opinion, this points to a trend powered solely by a market-place, rather than a recognition that equitable access to information is in the national interest. This is why, according to TelecomPaper, an independent publishing and research firm, the U.S. has fallen to 19th in overall broadband penetration worldwide. We will likely be passed by China in subscribership sometime in 2006 and by Slovenia in penetration by early 2007 (China will Pass US in Broadband).
Horrigan, John. “Home Broadband Adoption 2006.” Pew Internet & American Life Project. 28 May 2006. Pew Charitable Trusts. 29 May 2006 <http://www.pewinternet.org/report_display.asp?r=184>.
“China will Pass US in Broadband Lines by Lat 2006….” WebSiteOptimization.com. 23 Jan 2006. Website Optimization. 29 May 2006 <http://www.websiteoptimization.com/bw/0601/>.