Monday, March 22, 2010

The Last Mile and Vermont- by Matt Dunne, candidate for Vermont Governor

Matt Dunne, current candidate for Vermont Governor, delivered a presentation today on 'Transforming the Last Mile State' at Berkman's Lawlab Series. What I was interested in is finding parallels, if any, between the 'last mile' in a US state and the 'last mile' in developing countries. I have below firstly, my reactions to his presentation, and then a summary of his presentation itself, with the official event announcement:

  • While his interest in 'broadband' is passionate, his political message was more key. It does remind me of many government 'IT' champions in developing countries.
  • I worry about too much technology determinism on his part= "Tech Will bring Good (and only good)", again very common among IT proponents in developing countries (and elsewhere)
  • The technology is not the hard part, particularly for Vermont as a 'last state' (as he claimed) that can study lessons already learned in other States and countries
  • I wonder about the causation between his claim of broadband with competitiveness (ie does broadband directly cause competitiveness and therefore 'development?')
  • His claim that Vermont can go 'From Worst to First' because of Broadband, I question if it is too simplistic and reliant on leapfrogging technology (there was not much mention about the non-technology issues that often, if not always, overwhelm the technology).

Here is my summary (liveblogged) about his presentation:

  • Matt is not lawyer, and cannot write code (San says: "This makes me feel better, since I am-at least was- a lawyer, and I do write some code")
  • Vermont has an opportunity from a previous lack of opportunity
    • Last Mile State, very rural, spread out states, "dead last in internet connectivity"
    • Low ranking (49th) in in government transparency and (44th) eGov interaction
  • There is a clear need for broadband, needed to keep up, not to get ahead, most importantly to the last mile (not to the nearest place convenient for a T1 line), because
    • Lack of competitiveness (students with electricity vs those that didn't- because they can read after dark. The same kind of barrier)
    • Vermont culture: community based, can be buffered by internet connectivity
  • Once there is connectivity through broadband, Vermont is good to go....

Official Announcement:

law lab speaker series >


[Today] Transforming the Last Mile State

How Vermont can leapfrog a technology generation and lead the nation in connectivity, transparency and innovation.

Monday, March 22, 12:30 pm
Berkman Center, 23 Everett Street, second floor
RSVP required for those attending in person (
This event will be webcast live at 12:30 pm ET and archived on our site shortly after.
Speaker: Matt Dunne, Head of Community Affairs at Google, Inc. and former State Senator
Vermont is currently the least connected state in the country and has been ranked among the bottom three states for government transparency and use of the Internet to deliver services. Yet, the state’s size and tradition of participatory government may make it the perfect state to model fiber to the home, distance learning, new economy jobs, smart meter deployment, electric car grids, and active 2.0 engagement in state government that could approximate town meeting. Matt Dunne, former State Senator, Head of Community Affairs for Google and current candidate for Vermont Governor will share his vision for Vermont becoming the first truly 21st Century state.

About Matt

Matt Dunne has focused his life’s work on bringing together the worlds of entrepreneurship, service and politics. Elected to the Vermont House at the age of 22, he served 7 years before joining the Clinton Administration as the Director of AmeriCorps*VISTA overseeing 6000 full-time people working in the fight against poverty. In 2002 he returned home to Vermont and was elected to two terms in the Vermont Senate. Outside of the legislature, he worked in high-tech marketing and before joining Google was the Associate Director of the Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College, creating programs to support students who wish to pursue careers in the nonprofit and public sector. Now the Head of Community Affairs at Google, Matt supports the company’s local corporate social responsibility activities in the 25 communities where Google has an office or data center as well as helping guide larger corporate partnerships with the nonprofit and public sector. These activities include assisting the company with directing carbon offsets and renewable energy investments, and using technology to increase energy efficiency. Matt currently lives on the small farm where he grew up in Hartland, VT with his wife Sarah Taylor and his sons Judson and Abraham.


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