Nancy Scola

Nancy Scola is a writer based in New York. Her work has appeared in Science Progress, Politics Magazine, AlterNet, and the Columbia Journalism Review.

Recent Articles

A Hill That Looks Slightly More Like America.

Word comes from Speaker Pelosi's office that she and Committee on House Administration chair Robert Brady are launching a program to drive up diversity on the Hill, so that someone watching C-SPAN hearings at home doesn't always see such a sea of monochromatic see of faces up on the dais. Harry Reid started something similar on the Senate side a few years back. And while statistics mustn't be kept on the sacred black box that is the Senate, reporting suggests that it's working. Pushing for a House run by people who look more like America is something powerful that Pelosi can do from her speaker's perch. But she's speaker of the House, not Supreme Dictator of it. She can't order the 400+ offices that make up the House to hire this way or that, but she can make institutional changes that up the odds that committee staffs and member offices will diversify their staffs. (Pelosi and Brady are taking a more hands-on approach with offices directly under the Democratic leadership's purview,...

The Psychology of Public Policy.

A commentator on NPR's Morning Edition offered that Obama's presidential memo on LGBT hospital visitation rights , enforced through hospitals' taking of federal Medicare and Medicaid monies, wouldn't have much impact in New York, where it's already standard practice. The impact will be felt more, is the implication, in places like Florida, where Janice Langbehn was denied the right to see her partner of 18 years in a Miami hospital after she collapsed with an aneurysm. But that seems to fail to consider the psychological impact of Obama's visitation order even where there aren't policy ones. Law is one thing, but what in many cases gnaws on the gay psyche is raw uncertainty. Not knowing the situation you're going to walk into when you bring your partner into an emergency room is in itself draining, and even a little humiliating. Is one unthinking nurse going to make me feel less than equal, less than able to care for my loved one? Langbehn and her partner were on vacation in Miami at...

Britain's Internet Invasion.

In the wake of the FCC v. Comcast decision earlier this week, a few possible paths forward on net neutrality opened up. Jack Balkin had a good rundown of them here . One option was for the FCC to claw back the regulatory jurisdiction that it gave away in 2002 by reclassifying broadband as a communications service. Another was the idea of having Congress expand the FCC's mandate to spell out its claim over broadband Internet. (There was waiting on the Supreme Court to overturn the D.C. Circuit, but that hasn't gotten much attention.) Media advocates pretty quickly rejected the idea of turning to Congress to detail the FCC's jurisdiction, instead aggressively embracing the reclassification route. With its passage of the Digital Economy bill this week, the British Parliament seems determined to demonstrate why. As the Guardian tells it : An ambitious bill designed to kickstart the UK's broadband-enabled future and tackle internet piracy, it deserved more scrutiny than two hours' late-...

Authority in the Internet Age

A D.C. Circuit Court decision has called into question the FCC's ability to regulate the Internet.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, left. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Yesterday, the D.C. Circuit Court dropped a major decision that calls into question the Federal Communications Commission's jurisdiction over the Internet. The case in question had to do with the FCC's 2008 reprimand of Comcast when the cable company throttled its customers' use of the peer-to-peer file-sharing software BitTorrent. What the court rejected was the argument that the FCC has the power to regulate the networks that together make up the Internet under what's called "ancillary authority" extrapolated from the powers expressly granted to the FCC by Congress. The decision introduces an element of major uncertainty when it comes to everything from the FCC's promotion of net neutrality to the future of its recently announced National Broadband Plan. Frankly, it's a bad result for anyone interested in a well-regulated communications landscape that isn't simply the playground of the telecom giants. That said, there's a silver lining. The D.C. Circuit Court's decision in favor of...

Resisting the iPad's Siren Song.

Harvard's Jon Zittrain is out with his critique of the iPad . If you've followed Zittrain's work at all over the years, then you likely won't be surprised. He's long been sounding the alarm that technological development is trending away from the wild and wooly Web. But here Zittrain nicely frames the essential truth that the iPad isn't the tablet computer many of us have been waiting for. Instead, the iPad is much more akin to one "big iPhone." Which is one big reason why I don't think I'll be getting an iPad. (At least, if my self-control is a match for the iPad's shiny novelty, which isn't guaranteed.) The problem with being a jumbo-sized iPhone, on a macro level, is that the iPad moves us back toward the days of gatekeepers. It's already begun. "Apple has managed to convince a number of popular web properties to rework their sites" to be more iPad friendly, reported the San Francisco Chronicle , citing CNN, the White House, and about a dozen other sites. Indeed, I've heard more...

Pages