Friday Nov 07, 2008

Visions of a sustainable technocracy

our little girls shadow

Barack Obama's team seems more technologically savvy than his predecessor. In the mid 1990s when George W. Bush was governor of Texas, I was surprised to learn that he didn't have a public email address. At the same time, George W. Bush's democratic Lieutenant Governor Bob Bollock did have a public email address. Obama's recently launched change.gov website provides a more scalable framework for public input than any past president has ever deployed. I hope he and his staff are able to manage it well. I submitted some of these suggestions to change.gov:

  • Restore the technical advisory counsels that Reagan sacked in favor of lobbyists. Consider appointing optimistic, far-thinking visionaries such as William McDonough and Bill Joy.
  • Rebalance the fiscal value of education and research with the societal value, so basic research on energy, health, economics... and other areas of science which are unlikely to boost an individual stock price in the next 91 days, won't forever sit on the back burner while Europe, India, China and Japan leave us in the technological dark ages. [Read More]

Tuesday Nov 27, 2007

Obama steps into the open file format debate

During a talk at Google, Barack Obama mentioned that he would like to promote "universally accessible formats" for government information. News analysts are wondering why Obama would want to enter this debate. Government de facto support for proprietary standards owned by Microsoft impacts nearly everyone by forcing us to buy Microsoft's products. But this is understood only by a small technical minority and so normally wouldn't get any play in an electoral culture centered around "sound bites" and visceral reactions to pseudo issues which impact virtually no one but which make for emotive campaign advertisements. The fact that Obama mentioned file formats is probably an accident, but it would be nice to pretend that he is trying to drag electoral debates up to a higher level.

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