Technology, Public Policy, and Governance


The Register had an article on Friday about Urquhart's challenge to Hatch that categorized Urquhart as a "file-sharing, Republican blogger." That's a typical headline stretch since the file-sharing bit comes from a quote inside the article about file sharing being a technology, not a behavior:

"File-sharing technology is value-neutral and it's amazing. The technology should be lauded. Like most good things, though, it can be used in inappropriate ways. In those cases, the actions, not the technology should be discouraged," he said.
From File-sharing Republican blogger tackles Hollywood Hatch | The Register
Referenced Mon Sep 12 2005 08:51:21 GMT-0600 (MDT)

The more general message is this: don't regulate technologies, regulate behavior. The problem with creating public policy based on technology is that it changes. Just witness the pains state governments are going through right now to understand VoIP. All their regulatory infrastructure is based on the old technology of the PSTN and the new technology just can't be shoe-horned in.

Technologists, who understand this better than most, need to do more to support candidates who "get it." Tomorrow New Yorkers go to the polls in a primary election that has a similar choice. Andrew Rasiej is running for NYC Advocate, a position that most outside NY will have a hard time getting very excited about. In this position, Rasiej has the bully pulpit to make a case for community broadband, better disaster preparedness, and more generally, more transparent and responsive government.

These are all nice slogans, but I think Rasiej has a record to back them up. I was impressed enough to donate to his campaign. Hardcore Republicans will read his message and wonder how I could support someone as liberal as Rasiej. Quite simple: his understanding of technology and how it plays into public policy is much more important to me than his views on welfare.

Let's face it: it's NYC. That's a liberal place. There's not even a Republican in the race. And even if there were, I'm not going to change the politics of NY by supporting a Republican who can't get elected. I can change it, however, by throwing my support behind the candidate who can get elected and who understands the role of technology in public policy and governance.

People face the same decision in deciding whether to support Steve Urquhart or not. Call it the politics of expediency.