Heard on the Hill: Congressional Correspondence

Posted February 25, 2011 at 5:59pm

The Congressional Management Foundation, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that helps Congress do a better job communicating with the public, has released a cartoon on YouTube explaining just how technology has changed Congressional correspondence.

Nerd alert!

The cartoon is just over a minute long and features a man sitting at a desk, flanked by an inbox and an outbox. The video covers the past 50 years, and as each decade changes, so does the man’s outfit, the music and even the presidential portrait on the wall behind him.

“In the 1970s, new technology came to Congress,” the video explains. “Lava lamps accompanied word-processing machines and computers allowing Members of Congress to be more efficient.”

While technology was helpful in the ’70s, the video reminds us that it’s a double-edged sword. “The 1990s brought the Internet, and technology turned on Congress,” the video says. “The inbox began to far exceed the outbox.”

Today, lawmakers are at a disadvantage with Twitter, e-mail and Web forms making communicating with Congress as simple as pressing a button, according to the CMF.