Can Techies Reboot Government?

from the slowly,-but-surely dept

For years, every time a legal issue comes up that goes against the general “techie-libertarian” viewpoint, someone complains that all techies do is complain about the legal issues rather than actually doing something. Of course, in many ways, complaining publicly is doing something, but it appears that techies may finally be doing something to influence legal policy. The article starts off talking about the ability of MoveOn (founded by some techies) to motivate thousands upon thousands of people via the internet to take action on political issues, and make sure that politicians know their views. More focused on technology issues, it talks about well known groups like DigitalConsumer and the EFF who help promote legal issues that support typical techie-libertarian views. The article also discusses things like Craig Newmark (and other’s) filing a lawsuit against Hollywood to try to get permission to keep using their ReplayTV’s as they see fit. Definitely a good article showing that, while they may still have a ways to go, Silicon Valley techies are discovering their political voice.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Can Techies Reboot Government?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
dorpus says:

Techies are not libertarians

Techies are more accurately described as Pampered Pseudo-Anarchists Who Want To Have It Both Ways.

– Techies advocate “green” technologies, high environmental standards, all of which means Big Government.

– Techies espouse a one-sided definition of “free markets”. A truly free market would have no restrictions against monopolies, cartels, or collusion. A truly free market would be filled with unsafe products. But techies make their noises about “consumer rights,” which means Big Government.

– Most techies I’ve met supported some kind of socialized medicine, which again, totally contradicts libertarianism. If we want health care run according to libertarianism, then emergency rooms will treat patients in the order according to the size of their credit cards. I’ve yet to meet a “libertarian” posturer who says we should have such a system.

Techies “libertarians” are a lot like the Militia Movement whiners of the 90s, who made their noises about “independence” but were really just wanting a Big Government that favored their interests.

Munich says:

Weak Story

I saw this originally somewhere else more than a week ago (can’t remember where), but the same points come to mind:

– Most (damn near all) of the “techies” I know (and I know a lot) are on the other end of the spectrum than ones outlined in this article (i.e. greatly favored the war in Iraq). A more accurate description for this article would be “techies who live in Bezerkly”, or better, “Granola people in Northern California who happen to work in technology”, which brings me to the second point

– What is a techie? Someone who works in tech (including military contractors? Can’t imagine too many of them belonging to MoveOn). Anyone with internet access? That would be a huge swath of the population, for which there would be opinions all over the map. What about techies who work in companies outside of NoCal? Wanna poll all the engineers in Dallas? Betya their opinions differ greatly from those in NoCal.

Point is, techies (meaning people who work in technology) have no common political point. They represent views accross the spectrum. Perhaps a more general story about how the internet is allowing people with common views to come together and petition and influence government, and the penetration of the internet is making this easier would be a better article (and a bit trite), but making some general statement about “techies” finding their “political voice” is a bit overbearing and wishful thinking from a writer with leftish tendencies (shocking).

Munich says:

Re: Re: Tech, Food, Clothing....just another industry

I guess we are talking about three issues here:
– Political activity by Tech COMPANIES
– Political activity by Tech EMPLOYEES
– Political activity on Tech ISSUES

First, the tech industry is no different than any other industry. Picking two companies at random, Coke and Sun both want the same thing from government if they can get it: stifle their competition, buy their goods, give them price breaks, make some sort of incentive for consumers to buy their goods, increase their exports, decrease the cost of their raw materials, lower the cost of their labor pool, lower their taxes, etc., etc. Whether a company is selling “sugar water or technology that is going to change the world” (to coin a phrase), for-profit companies are going to have a pretty predictable wish-list from the government. Sun lobbies different agencies than Coke (WIFI standards verses USDA standards for example), but the bottom line is the same.

As for employees who WORK at Coke versus Sun, they are going to have the same breadth of experiences and care-abouts, ranging from left-wing conspiracy theorists to right-wing gun-toting militia. Whether they get poltitically active is their choice and technology DOES make it easier. A higher percentage of Sun employees will likely have internet than coke employees, but a) lack of web hasn’t stopped political activity for the past 200 years and b) the % penetration of internet at coke will probably not lack Sun for very long.

As for Tech ISSUES – music swapping, WIFI rules, digital cable, etc. – they by definition affect non-technical employees more than technical employees since tech employees make up a pretty small portion of the U.S. population, although they might not understand it as well as the tech population (quick, what bandwidths are “ISM”?) Thus “techies” CAN take the lead on these discussions, but that is about it.

The article sort of melds these different issues together when they are really separate.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...