Does 'The Future' Need Lobbyists Too?

from the do-we-want-that? dept

Back in April, I wrote about the Hack Society meeting at Union Square Ventures, where Rep. Jim Cooper provided a great quote:
"The past, in general, is over-represented in Washington. The future has no lobbyists."
That is, indeed, a problem to some extent. Of course, that then leads to a debate about what to do about that if you believe in the importance of disruptive innovation, and fear incumbents holding it back. The answer is not necessarily to "hire lobbyists" and play the same game -- because that's simply not a winnable war. The real answer is change the way things are done. There are a growing number of groups trying to do that, and while some may accuse them of just being "more lobbyists" at first, that severely underestimates what they're actually setting out to accomplish. GigaOm has a nice summary piece on a few of the groups who are seeking to have "the future" better represented in policy discussions.

It kicks off with a brand new think tank, put together by CCIA, called the Disruptive Competition Project -- or Project DisCo for short. Its focus is to highlight the importance of disruptive competition. This is a big deal, since legacy players almost always seek to position disruptive competition as doing something "illegal," when the truth is merely that they're disrupting the business models of those legacy players. This is a brand new effort, but with some great minds involved, so I'm excited to see where it goes.

Then they discuss Engine, a group that (full disclosure) I helped put together initially, and remain on their steering committee/advisory board. Engine is really about a two way conduit for education and information exchange between policy makers and the startup ecosystem. Too often we've heard that entrepreneurs just ignore policy makers (and equally from policy makers that they never hear from startups). This is often because the entrepreneurs are so focused on getting stuff done and just want government to get out of the way. But ignoring the government is no answer -- it's how we get bad policies that favor incumbent players and stifle innovation. Engine is seeking to change that not by lobbying in the traditional sense, but by opening up channels of communication, and presenting a real data-driven approach to things. Oh, and if you're a startup entrepreneur, you should become a member -- it's free and it'll help make sure your voice is heard in policy debates.

Next up, we've got the Internet Defense League, in which (again, full disclosure) Techdirt is a member. This was put together by the folks at Fight For the Future -- who were instrumental in the anti-SOPA/PIPA fight, recognizing that it would be good to have a bunch of websites ready to respond to existential threats against the internet. With SOPA/PIPA the threat was so large and so clear that they were able to get a bunch of websites to sign on for things like the "Call Congress" day in November and the big anti-SOPA blackout in January. The goal of the IDL is to leverage that effort into having sites prepared to respond when other big threats come along, rather than having to cobble together a new coalition of sites every time.

The final piece listed is TestPAC, Please Ignore, the PAC that was built out of the Reddit community, though isn't associated with Reddit the company. While this is an interesting attempt to play the "traditional" game with an internet twist, I'm not convinced that playing the game this way is ultimately going to succeed. In the end, we know that the incumbents are almost always going to play the PAC game better than the upstarts. I'm glad that these guys are trying, but I'm much more interested in the efforts that are seeking to really change the game, not just be a new player in the old game.

Either way, it's good to see that more people are thinking about this, and it's not over yet. I'm aware of at least three other efforts to really try to change the game in politics and policy to make sure that "the future is represented." Any one -- or even all -- of these may fail completely. But I'm encouraged to see multiple groups trying to get involved, and recognizing that ignoring policy is no longer an option.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: ccia, disruption, engine, hack society, internet defense league, jim cooper, lobbying, pac

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2012 @ 9:12pm

    Engine is seeking to change that not by lobbying in the traditional sense, but by opening up channels of communication, and presenting a real data-driven approach to things.

    That's called lobbying.

Add Your Comment

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

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord

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

Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.