In a follow-up to a story I mentioned several days ago, the New York Times has coverage of the new rules propositions for allowing electronic device use on the House floor. It seem these propositions will just formalize the way that people have already been using their devices—rules or not, Representatives and Senators are often seen furtively whipping out their gadgets to check messages.
The new rules are not meant to allow let congressmen listen to music or play games, though undoubtedly some will find less serious uses for the devices.
The intent, [Brendan Buck, a spokesman for the Republicans] said, was to let lawmakers look up the text of a bill, check a fact or keep up on the news of the day. Their advisers could also send them important messages. And, especially with the iPad’s bigger screen, lawmakers could abandon paper copies of bills in favor of electronic versions. Or they could use Google on their smartphone to check the accuracy of something a colleague had just said.
The article also points out other politicians’ uses of mobile device technology, such as Obama’s ubiquitous smartphone—and, amusingly, the adoption of a Blackberry by the wife of Obama’s predecessor.
“I had not used a computer in the eight years I spent in the White House, and I didn’t know a thing about BlackBerrys,” [Laura] Bush told Advertising Specialty Institute Radio. “And now, like everyone in the U.S., I have one in my hand every moment. I’m addicted to it.”
The Senate still does not allow open mobile device use, though a leadership aide said that the rules might be loosened at some point.