Saturday, January 10, 2015

Government Considering Using the Internet and Cell Phones for the 2020 Census

In this photo provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, tabulators in Washington record the information from the more than 120,000 enumerators who gathered data for the 1940 U.S. Census. The days of the census taker with a clipboard in hand may be numbered. Instead, the U.S. Census Bureau is testing digital means of counting Americans this year, from asking people to fill out their forms on the Internet instead of through the mail to giving their employees smartphones instead of paper to complete their counts. (AP Photo/National Archives and Records Administration) The Associated Press

UT San Diego published an article on 9 Jan 2015 about the 2020 U.S. Census.  The Census Bureau is planning to test digital tools in preparation for the next U.S. Census.  People may be asked to fill-out their census data on the Internet.  Think of all the time and money this would save!  The clipboard-toting census taker may soon become just another historical memory.  Even to me, who is always looking to technology for new and better ways to do things, this seems a bit sad.  It takes the element of personal interaction out of the equation.

I'm being sentimental - but there is something intriguing about looking at a copy of a page of - say - the 1930 U.S. census and seeing the names of my mother and grandparents written out, along with all the data the census taker wrote down as he stood there and spoke with one or both of my grandparents.  It leaves space to imagine the interaction between the parties - it is evidence of an actual conversation.  As you look at the handwriting, you can see where the pen slipped, or where an entry was corrected.  You can envision the census taker walking down the street, perhaps stopping to tie his shoe.  Was it raining or sunny the day he took my grandparent's census data?  Did my grandmother offer him a glass of water? Did my grandparent's still-evolving English make it harder for them to understand or be understood? Yes, it will be more cost-effective and efficient to use technology to do the job and the technology will, probably, spit out the required results. But it just won't be the same.

You can read the entire story by clicking here.

--  submitted by Denise Doyon

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