A few days ago I mentioned the uses that a couple of Supreme Court Justices were making of e-readers or iPads. It turns out that this is not the only place in government where the electronic devices might be used—but some existing rules of conduct might have to be cleared out of the way first.

Politico reports on the drive to modernize technological aspects of Congress, whose facilities are still somewhat technologically backward. The iPad has been finding favor with representatives, particularly Republican ones.

Indeed, when Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) got one of the first iPads earlier this year, he and others with the mobile device bemoaned rules that barred them from using electronics on the House floor. No definitive ruling has been made yet, according to a House leadership aide.

However, there seems to be some misunderstanding about those rules, prompted by Representative Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) presiding over the house with his iPad on the podium—an apparent violation of the rules. But it turns out it was actually not a violation after all; House Parliamentarian John Sullivan explained that the devices should be all right as long as they are not being used to play sound or to transmit.

If the iPad is formally permitted on the floor, it could considerably change the nature of Congressional debates.

“There will be the ability to have real-time information brought to the floor in a readable, usable format,” said [technology expert U.S. Naval Academy professor Steve] Frantzich. “A member could make a factual statement, and someone with an iPad could say, ‘No, your data is two years old.’ All of a sudden, you have a member being able to one-up someone speaking on the floor.”

And Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) has suggested replacing printed copies of bills with e-versions, which could potentially save quite a bit of paper if many Congressmen started adopting iPads or other tablets.

However, penetrating the famously technology-averse Senate may take a bit longer.

(Found via Engadget.)


The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail newteleread@gmail.com.