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

Is Net Neutrality Really a Job for the Regulators?

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission released its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on net neutrality rules that revolve around the idea of “reasonable network management.” Princeton’s Ed Felten points out that this framework would leave regulators with enormous discretion to determine what constitutes permissible manipulation of the Internet by network providers and what would be verboten . Giving the FCC so much leeway has some digital rights advocates nervous. Those advocates support the principles of neutrality, but they’re worried that the FCC’s jurisdiction grab here gives it an opening to exert greater control over the Internet down the road – which, given the Federal Communications Commission’s historic coziness with the industry it regulates, might not play out in the public’s favor. Those advocates might have a point. But adding a wrinkle to things is that Congress hasn't exactly proven itself capable of handling the complexities of the Internet age. The problem is...

Getting to the Clean Energy Equivalent of the Internet.

There have, in the last few days, been two pilgrimages of high-ranking Washington officials to geek meccas that are worth noting, though only one of them made any real news. President Obama went to MIT to publicly state that denying climate change is now an extremist position. "The naysayers, the folks who would pretend that this is not an issue, they are being marginalized," Obama argued in Cambridge on Friday. It's helpful for Obama to take such an aggressive stand, but it was Energy Secretary Steven Chu's trip to the Googleplex in Mountain View, California, that was arguably the more meaningful of the two trips. Chu was at Google headquarters yesterday to announce the first round of $150 million in funding under ARPA-E , the Department of Energy's experimental program for "high risk, high payoff concepts" for transformative energy technologies. The unfortunately named program was actually a Bush-era creation, though Bush never put an actual effort into getting it up and running,...

Radio for the People.

We've reached the point in our American media evolution where it becomes sensible to ask, (a) where did Glenn Beck come from, and (b) how do we get him to go away? Passed out of the House and headed for a likely floor vote by winter break is community radio legislation that helps explicate the first and suggests an answer to the second. No, not the dread Fairness Doctrine . This is a plan to grow the radio dial, not babysit it. The plan would open up the radio spectrum to broadcasters living within spitting distance of their transmitters -- offering up a dash of local diversity to liven up our current steady diet of placeless robojockery a la Glenn Beck. How we got here has to do, in part, with Congress' befuddlement over science, creating an opening for broadcasting lobbyists waltz right through. After the 1996 Telecom Act loosened media ownership restrictions -- so that Beck's syndicator Clear Channel, for example, ballooned from 16 stations to 1,200 -- the Federal Communications...

The One Where I Introduce Myself.

Hey and hello there, TAPPED fans. I'm Nancy Scola , and it is my tremendous pleasure to be your guest blogger for the week. Before we can move on to the fun stuff, some background on me. Prior to coming to my senses and embracing the writing life, I spent time working on the hands-on side of politics. A big chunk of it was spent working on Capitol Hill, for this guy . A smaller chunk went toward helping someone figure out whether or not he wanted to be president. He didn't. For the last year and a half, I've found a happy home at Personal Democracy Forum's techPresident , where I'm associate editor. I'm originally from New Jersey, which probably explains a lot. As a writer, my hope is to be a guide to those places where the geekiest of life's great topics -- the nuances of telecom policy, the ins and outs of our food safety system, for example -- meet our broader culture. Does that not sound wonderfully exciting? My task here this week is to prove that that can be thrilling stuff, or...

The Next Diplomatic Cable

Technology helped make Barack Obama president. Can it help Hillary Clinton save the world?

"The man who saved Iran" might be the most hyperbolic thing blogged about Jared Cohen this summer, but not by much. The huzzahs that greeted the news that the 28-year-old State Department staffer called on Twitter to delay a service blackout during the height of the Tehran street protests threatened to obscure the true complexity of Foggy Bottom's new, technology-enabled approach to diplomacy. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke of it herself in a commencement speech at Barnard College on May 18. "With social-networking tools that you use every day to tell people you've gone to get a latte or that you're going to be running late," she said, "you can unite your friends through Facebook to fight human trafficking." And in her agenda-setting July 15 speech to the Council of Foreign Relations, Clinton reiterated, "We are working at the State Department to ensure that our government is using the most innovative technologies not only to speak and listen across borders, not only to keep...

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