The latest government shutdown is forcing Americans to do without a lot of things they’d never heard of the last time around. You can’t sign up for the Do Not Call list. You can’t file an online complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. You won’t find NASA updates — like the Instagram photo of the asteroid Vesta — in your Twitter feed.
Most distressing : The National Zoo’s Web cameras are offline, depriving millions of Americans of 2 4/ 7 viewing access to America’s favorite little pink wrinkly mammal. Yes, the Naked Mole Rat Cam has gone dark. There’s been a lot of hand-wringing over the Panda Cam. But the shutdown also means there’s no Otter Cam, no Cheetah Cam, no Octopus Cam, no Tiger Cub Cam …
Some of this seems designed to inflict pain where none is necessary. It’s one thing for government agencies to stop updating their sites during the shutdown and another to withhold access to online resources that require no care and feeding. We get why the Library of Congress had to close its doors. We don’t get why its website is shuttered.
Still, can-do Americans are finding ways around the electronic obstacles. The Minor Planet Center is striving mightily to take up the slack for NASA’s silent tweeters. Athenahealth Inc., a health records company, says it will monitor and post information to help doctors anticipate flu outbreaks. Fans of late-night TV’s Conan O’Brien have discovered a new outlet for bear-watching. The republic will endure.
The government may be down, but Google is not.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE