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Clinton reaches out to Netizens

President Clinton details the indispensable role the Internet will play in American life in his State of the Union address.

President Clinton reached out to Netizens in his State of the Union address, promising that the Internet and technology will play major roles in improving education and economic growth in America.

"The greatest step of all, and my No. 1 priority as president for the next four years, is to ensure that Americans have the best education in the world," Clinton said. "Every 8-year-old must be able to read; every 12-year-old must be able to log onto the Internet; every 18-year-old must be able to go to college, and every adult American must be able to keep on learning."

As he outlined his plans not only for the new year but also for his entire second term, Clinton paid special attention to the role the Internet will play in American life. "As the Internet becomes our new town square, a computer in every home--a teacher of all subjects, a connection to all cultures--this will no longer be a dream, but a necessity. And over the next decade, that must be our goal."

"This is the first State of the Union carried live in video over the Internet," Clinton declared. "But we've only begun to spread the benefits of a technology revolution that should become the modern birthright of every citizen."

The president then detailed the ways in which the Internet will help America stay the world's "indispensable nation." He reaffirmed his popular campaign promise to connect every classroom, adding that America should connect every hospital to the Internet, so doctors can instantly share data, and should also build the second-generation Internet so leading universities and national laboratories can communicate at speeds 1,000 times faster than they can today.

But talk is cheap and many worry about where the government will find the money to pay for such grandiose plans.

Clinton also talked about technology's role in fueling economic growth, one of the themes he previewed to the nation's governors in a meeting Monday. At the meeting, Clinton and the governors agreed to work together to stimulate economic growth with new technologies such as electronic commerce.

He pledged to expand e-commerce by supporting new technologies and removing potential legal roadblocks to expansion. Last year online commerce grossed around $3 billion, and it is expected to gross $100 billion by the turn of the century, according to a recent report by International Data Corporation, an industry consulting firm.