A Silicon Valley-Washington DC conversation

Several months ago Andrew Feinberg, founder of the Capitol Valley.net blog, laid down a challenge to me and other tech bloggers: why don’t we ever come to Washington D.C. to get the politicians’ view of the tech industry?

After all, politicians have huge control over our industry.

They can decide things concerning network neutrality, taxation, whether universities get funded so that our industry will have a constant stream of new potential new employees, immigration (one tech-industry CEO recently told me his company is losing its best R&D talent which we educated here, but then are forced to go back home due to immigration laws), wireless bandwidth allocation, and much much more.

These are issues that the “shiny new thing chasers” like me don’t often talk about cause, well, they require doing homework and building partnerships and, well, going to Washington DC. Most of the geeks I hang out with don’t like hanging out with politicians. They would rather watch an hour-long-PowerPoint presentation on some boring enterprise-focused technology than hang out with politicians.

But I saw value in Andrew’s plea. He was right that we need a new conversation about technology and politics, particularly because there will be a regime change in Washington DC in January (even McCain would bring a different approach to the tech industry than Bush had).

So, next week me and the crew from FastCompany.tv is headed to New York for a day to attend the Personal Democracy Forum. Andrew will do some interviews there with me and I’ll be on a panel discussion.

Then on Tuesday we’re headed to Washington DC. Right now we’re tentatively speaking to four congressmen/women including Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the house.

My agenda for the week?

1. Learn about pending or upcoming legislation that will affect the technology industry.
2. Start a dialog between tech journalists and politician’s staffs, so we will have better understanding of what they are thinking and will have a chance to get our audiences feedback on potential legislation.
3. Hear how the regime change (er, Presidential election) will affect what they are thinking and what executives at technology companies should be aware of going into 2009.
4. Listen and bring you into conversations. I hope to do some Qik videos while there, and have some discussions on Twitter and FriendFeed.

Andrew also has us scheduled to interview a few key members of the FCC and we’re still working on our schedules to fit in some other fun stuff.

Plus, on Wednesday night we’re hosting a party which is open to all — wow, 122 are already signed up on the Facebook page for the party. We’re hosting Gary Vaynerchuk, the web superstar behind Wine Library TV and owner of one of the biggest wine stores in the world, along with a few other surprises.

Anyway, I really want to thank Andrew Feinberg. He did all the heavy lifting on this week and it should be an amazing week. He has my deepest respect and can’t wait to see what conversations start.

We’ll publish our calendars as we get them firmed up. Unfortunately in the world of politics even the best planned out calendar can instantly change due to world events, so we probably won’t know for sure we’ll get interviews with specific people until it happens.

Anyway, anything you’d like us to look into while we’re there? Leave suggestions on the comments here.

Comments

  1. Robert,

    Looking forward to seeing you at the Wednesday night get together!

    I am hosting my own event on Tuesday night in DC and would love you to come if you can squeeze it in!

    Saul Colt
    Head of Magic
    FreshBooks!

  2. Robert,

    Looking forward to seeing you at the Wednesday night get together!

    I am hosting my own event on Tuesday night in DC and would love you to come if you can squeeze it in!

    Saul Colt
    Head of Magic
    FreshBooks!

  3. [...] SpokesmanReview.com wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptA Silicon Valley-Washington DC conversation Several months ago Andrew Feinberg, founder of the Capitol Valley.net blog, laid down a challenge to me and other tech bloggers: why don’t we ever come to Washington D.C. to get the politicians’ view of the tech industry? After all, politicians have huge control over our industry. They can decide things concerning network neutrality, taxation, whether universities get funded so that our industry will have a constant stream of new potential new empl [...]

  4. Okay, I get it. You don’t like President Bush and think it’s funny to call the election a regime change as if he won two elections by putting tanks in front of the White House. Hil-flippin-arious.

    It you truly want a regime change, I guess you better bring your pitchfork to DC. You can start with Pelosi and go from there.

  5. Okay, I get it. You don’t like President Bush and think it’s funny to call the election a regime change as if he won two elections by putting tanks in front of the White House. Hil-flippin-arious.

    It you truly want a regime change, I guess you better bring your pitchfork to DC. You can start with Pelosi and go from there.

  6. BTW: It’s cool that you get to go to DC and represent the geeks. Can you be objective? I highly doubt it.

  7. BTW: It’s cool that you get to go to DC and represent the geeks. Can you be objective? I highly doubt it.

  8. I totally agree w/ Christopher on this. Are you one of those that belive in the whole “King George” crap that people throw aobut? I’ve always liked that you have tried to keep your political views out of your blog posts, but this one takes the cake.

    Will you try and talk with any members of the current administration? Will you focus on just those who deal with the political ideals you hold? Will we see a converstation between both parties?

    When you talk with the FCC will you mention how silly their new idea to deal with the cost of opt-ing out of cell phone contracts is? You know being forced to read and initial every part of the contract before getting the cell phone?

    One of the other things that “geeks” should talk with their politicians about is the idea of monopolies of cable companys in thier cities and districts that are stiffiling competition.

  9. I totally agree w/ Christopher on this. Are you one of those that belive in the whole “King George” crap that people throw aobut? I’ve always liked that you have tried to keep your political views out of your blog posts, but this one takes the cake.

    Will you try and talk with any members of the current administration? Will you focus on just those who deal with the political ideals you hold? Will we see a converstation between both parties?

    When you talk with the FCC will you mention how silly their new idea to deal with the cost of opt-ing out of cell phone contracts is? You know being forced to read and initial every part of the contract before getting the cell phone?

    One of the other things that “geeks” should talk with their politicians about is the idea of monopolies of cable companys in thier cities and districts that are stiffiling competition.

  10. Also can somone explain to me who has time to watch all of these videos? Is there a point in these converstations? Who has time to be on Qik, Kyte.tv, friendfeed, etc all day long?

  11. Also can somone explain to me who has time to watch all of these videos? Is there a point in these converstations? Who has time to be on Qik, Kyte.tv, friendfeed, etc all day long?

  12. Very cool Scoble! My question is how do the politicians keep updated with new technology. Do they have a tech advisor on their staff? Do they rely on relations with companies? Are there technology decisions affected by lobbyists from those companies?

  13. Very cool Scoble! My question is how do the politicians keep updated with new technology. Do they have a tech advisor on their staff? Do they rely on relations with companies? Are there technology decisions affected by lobbyists from those companies?

  14. Jonathan: I have a lot of people watching those videos. They don’t all watch everyone, though.

    As for my objectivity. I’m not objective. I’m very happy to see George go. That said, I’m not anti-Republican, either, and we’ll be looking to speak with anyone who is doing something interesting with technology, or working on technology issues or issues that affect the technology industry. Newt Gingrinch is someone we want to interview, for instance, because of his work on e-Government.

    Also, there’s a chance we’ll get into the White House. I know a few people there, and will be fair if given a chance to interview anyone in the current administration. I’m more interested in their views of what will change after they are out, though. I’m sure they’ll have something interesting to say on that topic.

  15. Jonathan: I have a lot of people watching those videos. They don’t all watch everyone, though.

    As for my objectivity. I’m not objective. I’m very happy to see George go. That said, I’m not anti-Republican, either, and we’ll be looking to speak with anyone who is doing something interesting with technology, or working on technology issues or issues that affect the technology industry. Newt Gingrinch is someone we want to interview, for instance, because of his work on e-Government.

    Also, there’s a chance we’ll get into the White House. I know a few people there, and will be fair if given a chance to interview anyone in the current administration. I’m more interested in their views of what will change after they are out, though. I’m sure they’ll have something interesting to say on that topic.

  16. [...] Brownstoner: Brooklyn Real Estate and Renovation wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptA Silicon Valley-Washington DC conversation Several months ago Andrew Feinberg, founder of the Capitol Valley.net blog, laid down a challenge to me and other tech bloggers: why don’t we ever come to Washington D.C. to get the politicians’ view of the tech industry? After all, politicians have huge control over our industry. They can decide things concerning network neutrality, taxation, whether universities get funded so that our industry will have a constant stream of new potential new empl [...]

  17. I lived and worked in Washington, DC for 13 months. I’ve since moved back home. It’s a nice place to visit, and I wish Robert luck with his plans and meetings, but these are professional, life-long politicians we’re talking about here – they’ll squirm out of any question, soft or hard, old media or new media.

    Re Jonathan’s second comment: I agree. Who really has the time to be on Qik, Kyte.tv, etc, etc, etc, all day long?

  18. I lived and worked in Washington, DC for 13 months. I’ve since moved back home. It’s a nice place to visit, and I wish Robert luck with his plans and meetings, but these are professional, life-long politicians we’re talking about here – they’ll squirm out of any question, soft or hard, old media or new media.

    Re Jonathan’s second comment: I agree. Who really has the time to be on Qik, Kyte.tv, etc, etc, etc, all day long?

  19. I know someone in Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s office. I believe she’s Silicon Valley. Let me know if you are interested in trying to score a meeting!

  20. I know someone in Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s office. I believe she’s Silicon Valley. Let me know if you are interested in trying to score a meeting!

  21. Shana: I’d love to meet Zoe Lofgren. Would love a connection. rscoble@fastcompany.com

    David: who has time to watch TV all night long? Lots of people do.

    I watch things that get on my radar screens (IE, my friends/fans/family tell me they are interesting). That’s one reason I watch FriendFeed so much. It’s very interesting to see what people tell me to watch over there. It almost always is worth spending my time when they send stuff my way.

  22. Shana: I’d love to meet Zoe Lofgren. Would love a connection. rscoble@fastcompany.com

    David: who has time to watch TV all night long? Lots of people do.

    I watch things that get on my radar screens (IE, my friends/fans/family tell me they are interesting). That’s one reason I watch FriendFeed so much. It’s very interesting to see what people tell me to watch over there. It almost always is worth spending my time when they send stuff my way.

  23. To give credit where credit is due, I want to thank Robert for talking about FriendFeed. It encouraged me to sign up and see what the buzz was all about.

    I may not have time to watch TV, online or cable, all day or all night, but as long as someone can ‘feed’ me some links to good, valuable, insightful material, I will watch, one way or the other. Another reason why I cannot be online all day long streaming audio and video: My ISP sets limits on my download and upload activities. Bummer. Now there’s something I’d love to discuss with my Canadian politicians!!

    Good luck in Washington, Robert.

  24. To give credit where credit is due, I want to thank Robert for talking about FriendFeed. It encouraged me to sign up and see what the buzz was all about.

    I may not have time to watch TV, online or cable, all day or all night, but as long as someone can ‘feed’ me some links to good, valuable, insightful material, I will watch, one way or the other. Another reason why I cannot be online all day long streaming audio and video: My ISP sets limits on my download and upload activities. Bummer. Now there’s something I’d love to discuss with my Canadian politicians!!

    Good luck in Washington, Robert.

  25. Robert, you should really try to speak with Ed Markey. He is far and away the most influential House member when it comes to technology related issues.

    Pelosi obviously is and will continue to be very influential, but Markey is the key, and is also a really smart guy.

  26. Robert, you should really try to speak with Ed Markey. He is far and away the most influential House member when it comes to technology related issues.

    Pelosi obviously is and will continue to be very influential, but Markey is the key, and is also a really smart guy.

  27. I think Andrew is absolutely right that there’s a surprising lack of communication between tech bloggers and the politicians who have, in many ways, just as much influence over the way the internet will be shaped over the next ten years.

    I’m glad to see you take an interest in the space, and I hope you get some good conversations started. I’ll be tuned in.

  28. I think Andrew is absolutely right that there’s a surprising lack of communication between tech bloggers and the politicians who have, in many ways, just as much influence over the way the internet will be shaped over the next ten years.

    I’m glad to see you take an interest in the space, and I hope you get some good conversations started. I’ll be tuned in.

  29. Gabe: you don’t happen to know Ed, do you? I’d love to be connected with him by someone who knows him. Agree, though, that he’d be great to interview.

  30. Gabe: you don’t happen to know Ed, do you? I’d love to be connected with him by someone who knows him. Agree, though, that he’d be great to interview.

  31. David, it may help if journalists in this country actually took their jobs seriously in terms of informing the public. Seriously, listen to Radio4′s today programme sometime and compare it to those in the US.

  32. David, it may help if journalists in this country actually took their jobs seriously in terms of informing the public. Seriously, listen to Radio4′s today programme sometime and compare it to those in the US.

  33. I’d be curious what the real knowledge level in Congress is of the innovation that goes on in Silicon Valley, especially since the “Tubes” descriptpion of the Internet. How do people who don’t USE a technology think they can make laws about it? I’d like to know how they can possibly legislate on, for example, net neutrality. Or copyright. And to whom do they turn for guidance on these issues?

    Lobbyists? There are plenty of tech lobbyists, but don’t they represent only the large players? Who represents the startups, the entrepreneurs? I think innovation is underrepresented in Washington.

  34. I’d be curious what the real knowledge level in Congress is of the innovation that goes on in Silicon Valley, especially since the “Tubes” descriptpion of the Internet. How do people who don’t USE a technology think they can make laws about it? I’d like to know how they can possibly legislate on, for example, net neutrality. Or copyright. And to whom do they turn for guidance on these issues?

    Lobbyists? There are plenty of tech lobbyists, but don’t they represent only the large players? Who represents the startups, the entrepreneurs? I think innovation is underrepresented in Washington.

  35. Well, first things first–I strongly recommend you eat a crabcake sandwich at the “Market Lunch” inside the (temporary) Eastern Market building at 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue SE (near there). It’s delicious and worth the trip. A true Washington institution. You can get a chicken sandwich if you’re not a crab fan. They’re also good.

    Second, you might try to score an interview with one of the top ‘political’ bloggers in DC and talk about their work (from a tech angle perhaps). Political blogging is a very rough and tumble world and I’m sure some of them have some hate mail that would scare you to death.

    I think it might also be interesting to point out ‘when tech bloggers go political.’ You know how everyone made fun of Sen. Stevens ‘tube’ speech and how it showed he didn’t know what the hell he was talking about when it comes to technology. Well, in DC when a lot of tech bloggers go off on a tangent about some politics, it often comes across just as amateurish and uninformed. Perhaps some of the political bloggers could give you more insight on that.

    While I know your trip is focused on politics, you might consider visiting the NVTC (Northern Virginia Tech Council) which is sort of an umbrella group helping out the companies along the ‘Dulles Toll Road’. You’ll see the signs on the side of the buildings and you’ll probably feel some familiarity (Cisco, Microsoft, AOL, etc). Or head up I270 in Maryland along the bio-tech corridor and talk to the Human Genome group and others up there.

  36. Well, first things first–I strongly recommend you eat a crabcake sandwich at the “Market Lunch” inside the (temporary) Eastern Market building at 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue SE (near there). It’s delicious and worth the trip. A true Washington institution. You can get a chicken sandwich if you’re not a crab fan. They’re also good.

    Second, you might try to score an interview with one of the top ‘political’ bloggers in DC and talk about their work (from a tech angle perhaps). Political blogging is a very rough and tumble world and I’m sure some of them have some hate mail that would scare you to death.

    I think it might also be interesting to point out ‘when tech bloggers go political.’ You know how everyone made fun of Sen. Stevens ‘tube’ speech and how it showed he didn’t know what the hell he was talking about when it comes to technology. Well, in DC when a lot of tech bloggers go off on a tangent about some politics, it often comes across just as amateurish and uninformed. Perhaps some of the political bloggers could give you more insight on that.

    While I know your trip is focused on politics, you might consider visiting the NVTC (Northern Virginia Tech Council) which is sort of an umbrella group helping out the companies along the ‘Dulles Toll Road’. You’ll see the signs on the side of the buildings and you’ll probably feel some familiarity (Cisco, Microsoft, AOL, etc). Or head up I270 in Maryland along the bio-tech corridor and talk to the Human Genome group and others up there.

  37. Hey, the gang from TechLiberationFront would be delighted to fill any holes in your schedule, and some of us we’ll certainly come to the Wednesday gig. (Recommended: upstairs at the Science Club – 1136 19th St., NW – call ahead with approximate numbers and they’ll hold the room for you) TLF is a masochistic group that generally doesn’t like politicians, but we hang out with them all the time and breathe the same air. (Eeeuuww. Eeuuww.) We can help translate into reality the sweet nothings, bromides, and platitudes that you hear from the politicians and their staffs.

  38. Hey, the gang from TechLiberationFront would be delighted to fill any holes in your schedule, and some of us we’ll certainly come to the Wednesday gig. (Recommended: upstairs at the Science Club – 1136 19th St., NW – call ahead with approximate numbers and they’ll hold the room for you) TLF is a masochistic group that generally doesn’t like politicians, but we hang out with them all the time and breathe the same air. (Eeeuuww. Eeuuww.) We can help translate into reality the sweet nothings, bromides, and platitudes that you hear from the politicians and their staffs.

  39. Sorry Robert. I don’t have any connections to Ed, but I have little doubt that his Comm. Director/Press Secretary would jump at the chance to schedule an interview with you.

    Looking forward to reading about these meetings.

  40. Sorry Robert. I don’t have any connections to Ed, but I have little doubt that his Comm. Director/Press Secretary would jump at the chance to schedule an interview with you.

    Looking forward to reading about these meetings.

  41. “Decide whether universities get funded” ???? Uh…what the he’ll are you talking about. I didn’t know the U.S. had a National University. Last I checked our universities are private or STATE public universities. They rely more on donations for the research issues you are talking about.

    You have your regime change position backwards. If B. Hussein Obamessiah wins we will be living under a regime where the Fed Govt. will be involved in every aspect of our lives and making decisions for us.

    Good luck trying to move the technology ball in D.C. Better come with lots of money to be willing to spend on their current or upcoming election campaigns. Unless they think you can help them stay in office, all you will get from them is rhetoric. Gotta admire your naive idealism. It’s adorable on a number of levels.

  42. “Decide whether universities get funded” ???? Uh…what the he’ll are you talking about. I didn’t know the U.S. had a National University. Last I checked our universities are private or STATE public universities. They rely more on donations for the research issues you are talking about.

    You have your regime change position backwards. If B. Hussein Obamessiah wins we will be living under a regime where the Fed Govt. will be involved in every aspect of our lives and making decisions for us.

    Good luck trying to move the technology ball in D.C. Better come with lots of money to be willing to spend on their current or upcoming election campaigns. Unless they think you can help them stay in office, all you will get from them is rhetoric. Gotta admire your naive idealism. It’s adorable on a number of levels.

  43. Robert, I realize that this trip is mainly about digging into tech policy and meeting with folks on the Hill and at the White House.

    Despite popular opinion to the contrary, there is more to DC than just politics. We have a bunch of startups that get quite a bit of attention on the international stage.

    I’d be happy to help make some introductions, if you’re looking to talk to folks.

    Look forward to seeing you at the party on Wed!

  44. Robert, I realize that this trip is mainly about digging into tech policy and meeting with folks on the Hill and at the White House.

    Despite popular opinion to the contrary, there is more to DC than just politics. We have a bunch of startups that get quite a bit of attention on the international stage.

    I’d be happy to help make some introductions, if you’re looking to talk to folks.

    Look forward to seeing you at the party on Wed!

  45. Robert,
    I still can’t get over that of all weeks for you to be in DC you chose the one when I will be away in Glacier National Park, Montana.
    Justin is correct…there are, I believe, as many startups in the DC area as there are in Silicon Valley. Keep in mind the federal government creates and stores more data than any organization on earth. For example, Westat where my wife works does the statistical work for all those government agencies.
    And there is plenty of creative video work being done (see http://www.metamediausa.com/2006/index2.html where I used to work, for example)
    National Geographic, The Smithsonian, The World Bank, etc. are all doing interesting work in social media.
    Also, biotech is big here due to their need to be close to NIH and FDA (see
    http://www.thehpvtest.com/ which is where I work and we identify HPV before it becomes cervical cancer.
    Anyway…wish I had had a little notice. There are people here I’d love to introduce you to because I think you have mutual interests. The Baltimore/Washington DC/Northern Virginia is one large megalopolis, like Silicon Valley. Hopefully, you’ll visit again when I’m here and I can set you up with some very interesting people.

  46. Robert,
    I still can’t get over that of all weeks for you to be in DC you chose the one when I will be away in Glacier National Park, Montana.
    Justin is correct…there are, I believe, as many startups in the DC area as there are in Silicon Valley. Keep in mind the federal government creates and stores more data than any organization on earth. For example, Westat where my wife works does the statistical work for all those government agencies.
    And there is plenty of creative video work being done (see http://www.metamediausa.com/2006/index2.html where I used to work, for example)
    National Geographic, The Smithsonian, The World Bank, etc. are all doing interesting work in social media.
    Also, biotech is big here due to their need to be close to NIH and FDA (see
    http://www.thehpvtest.com/ which is where I work and we identify HPV before it becomes cervical cancer.
    Anyway…wish I had had a little notice. There are people here I’d love to introduce you to because I think you have mutual interests. The Baltimore/Washington DC/Northern Virginia is one large megalopolis, like Silicon Valley. Hopefully, you’ll visit again when I’m here and I can set you up with some very interesting people.

  47. One last before my flight out to Montana…one question you might want to ask the politicians is why the Chinese Red Army and drive-by contract street hackers find it so easy to penetrate the personal computers of our Congress and Senators…supposedly the “most secure” network in DC.

  48. One last before my flight out to Montana…one question you might want to ask the politicians is why the Chinese Red Army and drive-by contract street hackers find it so easy to penetrate the personal computers of our Congress and Senators…supposedly the “most secure” network in DC.

  49. Robert,

    As I’ve said before — which made you block me on Twitter — you need to come clean on this trip. You make it sound as if you are utterly clueless about what politicians are thinking about subjects like “net neutrality” and make it seem as if there is some “disconnect” between Silicon Valley and Washington and tekkies never bother to pay attention.

    Nothing could be sillier nor further from the truth, as Silicon Valley has consistently had a HUGE impact on national politics and issues, not the least of which *is* net neutrality which you all as a concerted lobby have swung your way every time the issue comes up, swaying the FCC even from ceasing to address the underlying issue, *net congestion by a minority of high bandwidth hoggers*. It’s gotten so that you all fakely believe, because of a viral meme-campaign by Cory Doctorow and other copyleftists, that there is some “suppression of free speech” involved in allowing kids to keep downloading giant WoW patches and illegal movies and slow up everybody else’s email. Ridiculous.

    More importantly, I’ve asked you to come clean about which candidate you are supporting. Finally, I notice two days ago you signed up for the “I Support Obama” Facebook group. Of course, that could be for “educational purposes” but I think we can all agree that you, like your Silicon Valley brethren, support Obama. Oh, sure, you can probably find us a CEO of some tech company somewhere that is Republican or for McCain, but please…

    …because here’s where it gets REALLY ridiculous, your theory of the grand “disconnect”. Because Silicon Valley *already owns Obama, and has mainly been the ones to pay for him and account for his stupendous fund-raising success*. Duh?

    The Atlantic has an excellent story on this, which few really seem to have grasped in much of the rest of the country, and even the Twitterati aren’t seeming to admit what’s really the story there — Obama is this year’s hottest start-up, already totally bought and paid for by Silicon Valley:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200806/obama-finance

    And here’s a good piece in the same issue contemplating the implications for governance of all these $2000 contributions from geeks:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200806/ambinder-obama

    and I’d put it much, much more critically, given that a) geeks time and again let us know their absolute scorn for representative democracy — you just did that in this piece by talking about “regime change” and b) geeks, as you’ve indicated in this column, aren’t thinking of the interests of the country as a whole, but just the narrow concerns of their industry and what it requires to stay ahead. That means — push net neutrality even by making absurdly fake arguments like “free speech suppression”; that means push the Chinese Olympics and being soft on China just to keep tech market share, and damn the consequences for reforms; that means demonizing Israel for the problems of the Middle East.

    The worst possible consequences of Obama — backed by you all! — coming to power is if you are able to influence him to do all this social media e-governance stuff, and make the real-life country and real-life governance run the way you run your blogs, videocasts, web pages, virtual worlds, and social media platforms — which is with horrible, arbitrary, and capricious policies of “beta-testing” — feting your friends first and making sure only like-minded weld the tools; banning those you hate; culling, filtering, unfriending, blocking, banning…

    That means real-life restrictions of free speech, with culling out of people you don’t like, with favouritism and selectivity to move up a feted inner core you might call the e-lite — tribalistic, narrow-minded, concerned only about the issues of its own industry and flash-mobbing, crowd-sourcing, slashdotting, traffic-camping, Google-bombing to get your way on public issues instead of understanding the need for diversity, pluralism, consensus, respect for people’s votes and for constituencies different than yours. We really have to increasingly ask where the First Amendment is going to really take place when we all live online if you use your Obama vehicle and your fake “netroots” to overthrow real democracy — where?!

  50. Robert,

    As I’ve said before — which made you block me on Twitter — you need to come clean on this trip. You make it sound as if you are utterly clueless about what politicians are thinking about subjects like “net neutrality” and make it seem as if there is some “disconnect” between Silicon Valley and Washington and tekkies never bother to pay attention.

    Nothing could be sillier nor further from the truth, as Silicon Valley has consistently had a HUGE impact on national politics and issues, not the least of which *is* net neutrality which you all as a concerted lobby have swung your way every time the issue comes up, swaying the FCC even from ceasing to address the underlying issue, *net congestion by a minority of high bandwidth hoggers*. It’s gotten so that you all fakely believe, because of a viral meme-campaign by Cory Doctorow and other copyleftists, that there is some “suppression of free speech” involved in allowing kids to keep downloading giant WoW patches and illegal movies and slow up everybody else’s email. Ridiculous.

    More importantly, I’ve asked you to come clean about which candidate you are supporting. Finally, I notice two days ago you signed up for the “I Support Obama” Facebook group. Of course, that could be for “educational purposes” but I think we can all agree that you, like your Silicon Valley brethren, support Obama. Oh, sure, you can probably find us a CEO of some tech company somewhere that is Republican or for McCain, but please…

    …because here’s where it gets REALLY ridiculous, your theory of the grand “disconnect”. Because Silicon Valley *already owns Obama, and has mainly been the ones to pay for him and account for his stupendous fund-raising success*. Duh?

    The Atlantic has an excellent story on this, which few really seem to have grasped in much of the rest of the country, and even the Twitterati aren’t seeming to admit what’s really the story there — Obama is this year’s hottest start-up, already totally bought and paid for by Silicon Valley:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200806/obama-finance

    And here’s a good piece in the same issue contemplating the implications for governance of all these $2000 contributions from geeks:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200806/ambinder-obama

    and I’d put it much, much more critically, given that a) geeks time and again let us know their absolute scorn for representative democracy — you just did that in this piece by talking about “regime change” and b) geeks, as you’ve indicated in this column, aren’t thinking of the interests of the country as a whole, but just the narrow concerns of their industry and what it requires to stay ahead. That means — push net neutrality even by making absurdly fake arguments like “free speech suppression”; that means push the Chinese Olympics and being soft on China just to keep tech market share, and damn the consequences for reforms; that means demonizing Israel for the problems of the Middle East.

    The worst possible consequences of Obama — backed by you all! — coming to power is if you are able to influence him to do all this social media e-governance stuff, and make the real-life country and real-life governance run the way you run your blogs, videocasts, web pages, virtual worlds, and social media platforms — which is with horrible, arbitrary, and capricious policies of “beta-testing” — feting your friends first and making sure only like-minded weld the tools; banning those you hate; culling, filtering, unfriending, blocking, banning…

    That means real-life restrictions of free speech, with culling out of people you don’t like, with favouritism and selectivity to move up a feted inner core you might call the e-lite — tribalistic, narrow-minded, concerned only about the issues of its own industry and flash-mobbing, crowd-sourcing, slashdotting, traffic-camping, Google-bombing to get your way on public issues instead of understanding the need for diversity, pluralism, consensus, respect for people’s votes and for constituencies different than yours. We really have to increasingly ask where the First Amendment is going to really take place when we all live online if you use your Obama vehicle and your fake “netroots” to overthrow real democracy — where?!

  51. I’ve never hidden my support for Democrats lately. I supported Reagan and Sr. Bush in the 1980s, too, though. Anyway, look at the schedule (just posted) and I don’t see any presidential candidates on it, so this will be interesting. You’ll just have to judge me on my work.

  52. I’ve never hidden my support for Democrats lately. I supported Reagan and Sr. Bush in the 1980s, too, though. Anyway, look at the schedule (just posted) and I don’t see any presidential candidates on it, so this will be interesting. You’ll just have to judge me on my work.