Thursday, November 15, 2007

Barack Obama, Technocrat?

I'm putting this up as a placeholder on Obama's technology speech. Need to wade through this. First impression: Stoller doesn't appear to know anything about communications. But maybe it's just that's it's late and I'm grumpy.

Update 11/15/07: OK, I've plowed through this a bit. First, here's the Murky News link (free registration required). Now:

Obama wants to install a US CTO, who's in charge of getting the US government wikified. Why you would do this top-down is a mystery to me. I'm the world's biggest fan of transparency and support all efforts to get as much government information available to as many people as possible. If stuff like this isn't going to happen at the department level, then a kick in the pants might be nice. (As far as I know, it is happening at the department level.) In any event, the issue doesn't appear to be how the information gets delivered, the issue is what is delivered. A CTO is useless for that.

But Obama also wants to do things like leave bills open for public comment on a White House site for five days prior to signing. In that this is a step closer to direct democracy, I'm unalterably opposed to it. Technology is already fooling with the dynamic stability of government (see here). Pushing more in this direction is foolhardy.

Obama wants to force Universal Service Fund participants to offer broadband services. Note that this would implicitly torpedo the folks who plan to offer 3G wireless services and provide a heavy advantage to DSL providers, aka the tattered remnants of the Local Exchange Carriers. So, while the rest of the world builds out wireless infrastructure at a furious pace, Obama wants to subsidize wireline?

Obama's on the net neutrality bandwagon. As usual, I'd have to know what he meant by "net neutrality" before I could support this.

He also wants to revisit the spectrum auction for the ninetieth time. I'm stunningly ignorant in this area, which won't prevent me from asserting that any auction is better than no auction.

All in all, this whole thing has a whiff of some adroit lobbying going on behind the scenes.

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