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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 02/ 2/2011

Appreciating Congress's Web savvy

By Ezra Klein

Aside from restaurant Web sites, there's perhaps nothing uglier than the messes of clip art and beveled buttons that pass for congressional Web pages. But there is one way in which Congress is truly Web-savvy, and fairly under-appreciated for it: Almost all hearings are webcast.

Right now, for instance, I'm watching some of the country's finest lawyers testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the constitutionality of the individual mandate. A bit later today, a written version of their testimony is likely to pop up on the committee's Web site. As recently as a decade ago, the ability to watch most congressional hearings was limited to those who were able to physically attend the hearing itself. Today, anyone with a broadband connection can benefit from the same testimony and conversations that members of Congress are using to inform their decisions. It's a neat advance, and one that I think more people might enjoy taking advantage of.

By Ezra Klein  | February 2, 2011; 11:00 AM ET
 
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Comments

"It's a neat advance, and one that I think more people might enjoy taking advantage of."

But looks like it is not Cowen worthy innovation then....

Internet is a next step on telephone communication revolution and not impressed that Tylor Cowen does not see it.

Imagine Tunisia, Iran Green Revolution and Egypt; all without Internet.

I just fail to understand when Economist simply use the criteria for innovation as how better one is able to cook and how swanky one's kitchen looks.

Posted by: umesh409 | February 2, 2011 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, EzraKlein.com opens a dozen stylesheets in notepad everytime I refresh the page.

How's that for web savvy...?

Posted by: whoisjohngaltcom | February 2, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

"conversations that members of Congress are using to inform their decisions."

To what extent do you think members of Congress really use expert testimony at hearings to influence their decisions? My impression is that on any politicized decision, the hearings have very little impact in terms of influencing decisions (and are more about PR, legal precedents, etc.) But perhaps with less controversial topics, the hearings have real influence. I'm curious to know.

Posted by: Levijohn | February 2, 2011 1:16 PM | Report abuse

It seems that in the 50's, the networks were hard up for daytime programming, so they broadcast congressional hearings. All we need now is a latter-day Estes Kefauver to exploit these webcasts for fame and name-recognition.

Posted by: adonsig | February 2, 2011 1:47 PM | Report abuse

C-Span has been broadcasting major hearings (like this one) for more than a decade.

Posted by: KennethAlmquist | February 2, 2011 6:23 PM | Report abuse

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