Saturday, June 02, 2007

Mr. Rogers Speaks to the US Senate Hearing Committee for PBS

This video surfaced recently in the top ten section of Digg's Video section, of all places (go Digg It now)., "a user driven social content website," is often swamped with tech and geek news surrounding Apple rumors and Linux hacks. This made it all the more amazing and touching to see the beautifully legato speech Fred Rogers gave pleading for money not to be cut from PBS and redirected to the war in Vietnam.

It is when gems like these work their way to the blogosphere surface that I truly think that web 2.0-cum-3.0 can truly do great things for the world. I see this as proof that while our ADD-laden generation is clicking and tapping away in front of liquid crystal displays with glazed eyes, behind that malaise there is a deeply powerful humanitarian spirit. People matter.

When Rogers gave this speech in 1969 the US was engaged in a "police action" in Vietnam. For the first time in history video images of war were coming back home and suddenly war, a game man has waged for millennia, was in every American living room in all of its napalm and entrails splattered glory. The Vietnam war redefined journalism (and many argue that journalism defined the Vietnam war) and explored the newfound powers of broadcast journalism.

I grew up on PBS. Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, Sesame Street, Square One, and Bill Nye the Science Guy were all regulars in my family room. I was CONVINCED that if I just kept watching Reading Rainbow LeVar Burton would impart to me the powers of literacy. Rogers explains how the work of PBS has done a huge amount for the mental health of the United States. So what are the children of the web 2.0 dawn downloading, streaming, and watching? Where is quality educational children web content? And if there isn't any where will these internet orphans be in ten, twenty, thirty years?

After his passing in 2003, both the House of Representative and the Senate passed resolutions honoring the amazing work of Fred Rogers. Who will be the Mr. Rogers of new media? And what kind of neighborhood will it be?

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