On-Line Congressional Hearings
In 1993, the Internet Multicasting Service had the bright idea of helping the U.S. Congress go on-line. The Subcommittee on Telecommunications and Finance asked us to run the technical side of the hearing. Plans were elaborate: live multicast video out to witnesses in multiple cities, the ballroom of the National Press Club outfitted with dozens of powerful workstations, and lots of email, web site, and other interaction with the attending public.
The plan was ultimately stillborn. Not because the Congress didn't get it: the representatives and staff were totally gung ho. Not because of lack of interest from the world: we were deluged with offers to participate. We ran afoul of the campaign finance laws. The 501(c)(3) non-profit IMS (and our corporate partners furnishing computers and services) couldn't make a contribution of this size. It would have been perfectly legal to put the Congress on chartered planes and fly them to a golf club, but this wasn't allowed.
By 1995, we had navigated our way through the morass and we assisted Senator Connie Mack of Florida to make the Joint Economic Committee the first to accept questions from the public via email.
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