What A Concept: The President Should Appoint People Who Understand Technology

from the well,-duh dept

We've complained plenty about elected officials who don't understand technology but have no problem regulating it -- but the problem extends way beyond elected officials. Tim Wu has a bunch of recommendations on how the next President can fix tech policy in the US and it pretty much all boils down to one thing: appoint people who actually understand technology. That means not appointing lobbyists and lawyers to the FCC and getting a real infrastructure expert to be a "broadband czar." These aren't bad ideas, but it's positively frightening that it even needs to be brought up at all. Have we really reached the point that almost everyone in charge of crafting tech-related policy doesn't have even the slightest tech background?

Filed Under: appointments, broadband czar, fcc, policy, tech policy


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Apr 2008 @ 1:30pm

    Should someone from pharma run the FDA? Should someone from Wall Street run the SEC?

    A broadband czar? Wouldn't that be about as effective as the drug czar?

    Tims article is good though, someone should send it to McCain.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Monarch, 2 Apr 2008 @ 3:49pm

      Re: by Anonymous Coward on Apr 2nd, 2008 @ 1:30pm

      "Should someone from pharma run the FDA? Should someone from Wall Street run the SEC?"

      Well, I would hope someone with a doctorate in chemistry or someone with a Medical Doctorate runs the FDA. I'd also hope someone with a degree in economics or finance runs the SEC, with hopes they have taken and passed the exams necessary to be a trader.
      So I'd really hope someone with a degree in CompSci preferably in Networking and Preferably with at least a CCIE cert would be the advisor on Network Backbone or tech advisor for the pres.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      some other guy, 2 Apr 2008 @ 4:18pm

      Re:

      "A broadband czar? Wouldn't that be about as effective as the drug czar?"

      Bad comparison. There is no 'War On Broadband'

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Missing Frame, 2 Apr 2008 @ 1:43pm

    We need a czar czar

    We need a czar czar to manage the czars.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      CustomComputers, 2 Apr 2008 @ 2:18pm

      Re: We need a czar czar

      HOW TRUE! A REAL LEADER IS CERTAINLY IN ORDER.

      When the US can become un-Chennyed and out of the Bushes our
      country will be much better off.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Scott, 2 Apr 2008 @ 1:43pm

    Of Course!

    I work with clueless people all day in the tech industry. No one else besides me has a clue how stuff works around here. Why would politicians be any different?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    CJay, 2 Apr 2008 @ 1:47pm

    DIY is fine by me

    An industry insider certainly could pose a conflict of interest (not to mention they make more money in the private sector, so why would they?) but what about academia? Hell I'll take a politician that has set up his own home network and can work iTunes (and of course reads techdirt)!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jake, 2 Apr 2008 @ 1:51pm

    Actually, for probably the first time since the Internet became mainstream, every single candidate has someone on their campaign payroll who understand the Internet at a moderately deep level. Here's hoping it occurs to whoever wins to give this person a job when they get into office.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Joe, 2 Apr 2008 @ 2:54pm

      Re:

      I wouldn't go so far to say that each campaign has someone who understands the internet and they should get the job in discussion. I think they know how to market or utilize the internet. That is much different then policy making in regard to how best to stear advancement/regulation on the net, or for companies who provide net type services.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    PRMan, 2 Apr 2008 @ 1:54pm

    Techies are too smart to hold political positions

    Why would any savvy technician give up a fun job where we get to solve computer problems all day for one where we go to Washington and are forced to deal with the worst sort of underhanded political games?

    Many techies already get enough of that at work. Why would they want to take a pay cut and move their family to the craphole that is Washington DC to make political nonsense a full-time job?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Aaron, 2 Apr 2008 @ 1:59pm

    this is exactly what South Korea did back in the day. They realized that broadband was a national asset that could be best utilized and developed by smart industry people not lawyers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Asher, 2 Apr 2008 @ 2:31pm

    Actually, I disagree. The top person needs to be a good manager. HE then needs to hire people who know what they are talking about. He then needs to LISTEN to what they have to say. The top person in charge usually has too much buerocracy to deal with, and no time for the issues.
    It is Warren Buffets philosophy and it works for him. Surround yourself by people who know what they are doing and let them do it,and keep your hands and lobbyists off!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Greg, 2 Apr 2008 @ 2:46pm

    Appointing Experts to Govermnent Technology Positi

    I have been working in technical fields for the past 40 years. Nothing has changed. Politicians maintain themselves at a comfortable level of ignorance so they can vote for what they or their constituents believe to be true whether it is or not. They staff regulatory agencies with lawyers and bureaucrats. There are a few technically competent people, but not in policy making positions. The lawyers are the most harmful since in this country they are trained to be advocates for a certain position which leads them to latch onto a policy and defend it by collecting all of the data in favor of that position and systematically ignoring, denigrating, or suppressing opposing points of view. If the agencies weren't so slow moving there would be absolutely no progress. Luckily, they usually can't keep up with us so the barriers they create are harmful but not insurmountable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    tired, 2 Apr 2008 @ 2:46pm

    The reason that all the social security numbers and cc#'s are spread all over the internet is because no one on a high level has a clue.

    I once had a conversation with a certain state atty general that left me shaking my head after a huge data spill. She actually said "the google".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Apr 2008 @ 3:48pm

    Do you think politicians and staffers laugh at you when you think you have politics figured out as much as you laugh at their attempts to understand technology? [Hint: yes, they do.] The idea that a techie would have the political savvy to even understand the territory is laughable, and such a person would lack any sort of independent political capital to expend in getting the job done -- no favors owed to them means that their power is roughly equivalent to the extent of which the president or senior staff has an ongoing interest in the problem at hand.

    Yes, you all sound just as stupid to political insiders as they probably sound to you when you hear "the google" escape their lips...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Apr 2008 @ 7:01pm

      Re:

      "The Google" 'eh? And Al Gore invented that too, I am sure.

      But seriously, it seems the only state with decent legislators is Washington State. They passed the 1995 SPAM act, and numerous other citizen-friendly, tech-based laws. Other states should take notice.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Alimas, 3 Apr 2008 @ 5:12am

      Re:

      You sound like a complete moron.
      Your entire argument is based upon extreme generalizations of people in two different careers and not even for any reason involving said careers.
      Your entire comment is laughable.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lojiko, 2 Apr 2008 @ 3:58pm

    I nominate Ray Kurzweil. That would be interesting. He'd probably turn it down given he's doing much more interesting things.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Thom. Paine X, 2 Apr 2008 @ 5:52pm

    @some other guy & others.

    The point is there should be no one at the Federal level who should be in charge of technology! Let's read the constitution. The Internet was developed by the Defense Department, but it was not until it got into the hands of the private sector that the "dirt road" became the internet superhighway. The Internet is commmunication not commerce.

    Let's keep the feds out of everything, but the military and let's leep the military for defense puposes only.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Alimas, 3 Apr 2008 @ 5:20am

    Managerial Expertise

    Someone on here mentioned focusing on someone that had managerial experience and surrounding him with tech people to yield the best results. I say require both.
    There are lots of ways to get and prove skills in leading people and it should be just as much a requirement as being tech savvy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bshock, 3 Apr 2008 @ 8:42am

    nice idea

    First, people need to elect a president who is capable of understanding he or she needs people who understand technology. Not someone, say, who is clearly suffering from advanced Alzheimer's disease, or who is delusional enough to put up a truly laughable YouTube video as a promotion.

    Although at this point, I'd be satisfied with a president who wasn't a puppet of Big Business.

    I know, I'm a dreamer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2008 @ 9:57am

    Let's keep the feds out of everything, but the military and let's leep the military for defense puposes only.

    Didn't you know the best defense is a good offense?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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