Groups Urge a 'Digital Gift' to the Nation

Report Calls for an Electronic Land-Grant Act for Our Time



Apr 05, 2001, 01:00 ET from Digital Promise Project

    WASHINGTON, April 5 /PRNewswire/ -- A broad-based coalition of educators,
 library, museum, science and arts officials, and leaders of top information
 technology companies today urged the creation of a "Digital Gift" to the
 nation that would fulfill the broad educational promise of the Internet and
 other digital technologies.   The recommendation was made in a new report, "A
 Digital Gift to the Nation," a project of The Century Foundation that was
 sponsored by five major foundations.
     The report by Newton N. Minow and Lawrence K. Grossman likens the proposal
 to the Land-Grant Colleges Act of 1862, which set aside public lands to create
 a world-class system of 105 universities across the nation.  The proposal
 would create the Digital Opportunity Investment Trust (DO IT), funded with $18
 billion from the auction of the publicly owned electromagnetic spectrum,
 today's equivalent of public land -- "an electronic land grant" for the
 Information Age.
     "The Trust would serve as a venture capital fund for our nation's
 nonprofit educational and public service institutions," the report said of the
 Trust, which would be administered on the model of the National Science
 Foundation.  "It would be dedicated to innovation, experimentation, and
 research in utilizing new telecommunications technologies across the widest
 possible range of public purposes."
     The Trust would spur the development of innovative educational prototypes
 and models through the digital transformation of archives, training materials,
 online courses, civic information, and quality arts and cultural programs.
     "The nooks and crannies of our libraries, museums and other non-profits
 hold cultural and educational treasures, yet these treasures stay locked
 tight," said Grossman, former president of NBC News and the Public
 Broadcasting System (PBS).  "A Digital Trust would find innovative ways to
 unlock these treasures for every American.  It will make the convergence of
 the Internet, television and other telecommunications technologies better than
 any of them individually."
     Minow, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and PBS,
 added:  "The Trust would spur innovative uses of telecommunications and
 information technology for education to make available the marvels of our
 libraries, colleges and museums to every home, school and workplace.  It is
 time to dream big dreams about our digital future and the needs of our
 knowledge-based economy."
     Grossman said that the wiring of America is a monumental achievement. "Now
 is the time to connect those wires to content worthy of the technology," he
 added.  "We have a window of opportunity to put our remarkable Internet,
 wireless and information technologies to their highest and best use for every
 American."
     Among those endorsing the proposal are James H. Billington, Librarian of
 Congress; Stanley Ikenberry, president of the American Council on Education;
 Sheila P. Burke, undersecretary of the Smithsonian Institution; Eamon M.
 Kelly, chair of the National Science Foundation; Henry Kelly, president of the
 Federation of American Scientists; Dr. Robert N. Butler, president of the
 International Longevity Center; Robert Lynch, president of Americans for the
 Arts; and Martin Gomez, executive director of the Brooklyn Public Library.
     Executives of information technology companies also endorsed the report,
 including Eric Schmidt, chairman of Novell; Meg Whitman, president and CEO of
 eBay; and Rob Glaser, chairman and CEO of RealNetworks.
     The Digital Promise Project was supported by the Carnegie Corporation of
 New York, The Century Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation,
 The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and The Open Society
 Institute.  The report and 17 background papers are all available on a new Web
 site, http://www.digitalpromise.org .
 
     CONTACT:  Mike Collins, 202-383-9700, for the Digital Promise Project.
 
 

SOURCE Digital Promise Project
    WASHINGTON, April 5 /PRNewswire/ -- A broad-based coalition of educators,
 library, museum, science and arts officials, and leaders of top information
 technology companies today urged the creation of a "Digital Gift" to the
 nation that would fulfill the broad educational promise of the Internet and
 other digital technologies.   The recommendation was made in a new report, "A
 Digital Gift to the Nation," a project of The Century Foundation that was
 sponsored by five major foundations.
     The report by Newton N. Minow and Lawrence K. Grossman likens the proposal
 to the Land-Grant Colleges Act of 1862, which set aside public lands to create
 a world-class system of 105 universities across the nation.  The proposal
 would create the Digital Opportunity Investment Trust (DO IT), funded with $18
 billion from the auction of the publicly owned electromagnetic spectrum,
 today's equivalent of public land -- "an electronic land grant" for the
 Information Age.
     "The Trust would serve as a venture capital fund for our nation's
 nonprofit educational and public service institutions," the report said of the
 Trust, which would be administered on the model of the National Science
 Foundation.  "It would be dedicated to innovation, experimentation, and
 research in utilizing new telecommunications technologies across the widest
 possible range of public purposes."
     The Trust would spur the development of innovative educational prototypes
 and models through the digital transformation of archives, training materials,
 online courses, civic information, and quality arts and cultural programs.
     "The nooks and crannies of our libraries, museums and other non-profits
 hold cultural and educational treasures, yet these treasures stay locked
 tight," said Grossman, former president of NBC News and the Public
 Broadcasting System (PBS).  "A Digital Trust would find innovative ways to
 unlock these treasures for every American.  It will make the convergence of
 the Internet, television and other telecommunications technologies better than
 any of them individually."
     Minow, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and PBS,
 added:  "The Trust would spur innovative uses of telecommunications and
 information technology for education to make available the marvels of our
 libraries, colleges and museums to every home, school and workplace.  It is
 time to dream big dreams about our digital future and the needs of our
 knowledge-based economy."
     Grossman said that the wiring of America is a monumental achievement. "Now
 is the time to connect those wires to content worthy of the technology," he
 added.  "We have a window of opportunity to put our remarkable Internet,
 wireless and information technologies to their highest and best use for every
 American."
     Among those endorsing the proposal are James H. Billington, Librarian of
 Congress; Stanley Ikenberry, president of the American Council on Education;
 Sheila P. Burke, undersecretary of the Smithsonian Institution; Eamon M.
 Kelly, chair of the National Science Foundation; Henry Kelly, president of the
 Federation of American Scientists; Dr. Robert N. Butler, president of the
 International Longevity Center; Robert Lynch, president of Americans for the
 Arts; and Martin Gomez, executive director of the Brooklyn Public Library.
     Executives of information technology companies also endorsed the report,
 including Eric Schmidt, chairman of Novell; Meg Whitman, president and CEO of
 eBay; and Rob Glaser, chairman and CEO of RealNetworks.
     The Digital Promise Project was supported by the Carnegie Corporation of
 New York, The Century Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation,
 The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and The Open Society
 Institute.  The report and 17 background papers are all available on a new Web
 site, http://www.digitalpromise.org .
 
     CONTACT:  Mike Collins, 202-383-9700, for the Digital Promise Project.
 
 SOURCE  Digital Promise Project