PDF: The first tech president

Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry, founders of the Personal Democracy Forum, call for the first tech president. They list six requirements:
1. Declare the Internet a public good.
2. Commit to providing affordable high-speed wireless Internet access nationwide, along with protecting and expanding unlicensed spectrum for public use, and make the Internet a reliable part of our infrastructure….
3. Declare a “Net Neutrality” standard forbidding Internet service providers from discriminating among content based on origin, application or type.
4. Instead of “No Child Left Behind,” our goal should be “Every Child Connected.”
5. Commit to building a Connected Democracy where it becomes commonplace for local as well as national government proceedings to be heard by anyone any time and over time.
6. Create a National Tech Corps….

(Crossposted from Prezvid)

  • Don’t hold your breath on #2…

  • Interesting – what did they mean by a “National Tech Corps” – would this be gov’t employees managing, developing, and deploying our tech infrastructure? if so, not sure I’m keen on that….

  • Sounds like Al Gore to me.

    Oh, and he would be the first Green president, too.

  • Greg0658

    I like the sounds of it and a good start is in the direction of Presidential involvement. Websites are abundant, but theres only one USA President at a moment in time.

  • Cooler Heads

    This is ridiculous. Jeff, like it’s more important for a kid to have an internet connection that to have good math instruction?

  • Jake

    You’d have to work hard to come up with better ways to slow the proliferation of online technologies across the economy.

  • Greg0658

    CoolHead – if parents with good jobs with ablity to afford college for their children continue to disappear, we may need the internet to teach because of a shortage of good math teachers.

  • Robert

    While we’re at it:

    – Any movie Americans want should be available for streaming or download at any time. Even the really bad Robert Altman and Hal Ashby ones.
    – No pop-ups. They are the tool of freemasons and subversives.
    – Free access to The Wall Street Journal as a public service.
    – Broadband over power lines, NOW.

    But seriously: I’m no advocate of complete government naptime as free markets sort everything out, but aren’t the ideas articulated above already things that are sort of happening on their own? Is this what presidential candidates should be yakking about on the trail? Not sayin’ what they’re yakking about now is any better, but let’s keep in mind the scope of what a U.S. presidential race is all about…

    What will happen is what has happened before. Each candidate will have some junior flack on staff who will get the “tech geek” beat — any reporters who call on those topics will get referred to Flack X who will often force them to leave a message and wait for a response. If the NYTimes parachutes in to do one takeout about tech platforms, that will be the last word on the subject. Amen and godspeed.

  • Cooler Heads

    The internet is not a teacher. It is a technology. Like a pencil, or a telephone, or a television, or typewriter. You can learn from using these techologies, but by themselves these technologies do not teach.

    The people who think they do are people who have already learned things from teachers, who then supplement this with stuff they learn by using the internet. If you take a 7-year-old, put him in front of a computer hooked up the internet, and come back a year later, he will not have learned much about mathematics.

  • Will you be at PDF Jeff?

    I’ll be there with a group from the National Wildlife Federation, it would be great to catch up with you.

  • Greg0658

    I have learned alot in my years beyond formal school from television. The internet is just an interactive television technology.

    Your right the technology doesn’t create the content. People do. Hopefully with intelligence and not with a hidden agenda.

  • Laura Unger

    I agree there needs to be a national broadband policy, one leave leaves “no child off-line.” Some of the Democratic Party candidates have adopted positions on this and referenced the site of the Communications Workers of America’s Speed Matters Campaign as the source for their proposals. You might want to check it out — http://www.speedmatters.org.

  • Speaking for the Hands Off the Internet coalition, we concur wholeheartedly about universal broadband. However, I notice #3 refers to “net neutrality” but lacks specificity. If it’s in line with the four principles promulgated by the FCC — that’s great. But if it limits ISP’s ability to provide QoS prioritization, like the kind that would be useful in streaming high-def video, that would be a bad idea.

    Also, Josh — I’m pretty sure your comment was posted after PDF, which happened on Friday.

  • Laura Unger

    The CWA believes in an “open internet” — that there should be ABSOLUTELY NO DISCRIMINATION based on content but believes that providers should be able “to sell video and other private network services on a proprietary basis.” That’s where we sometimes run into disagreements with some of the lnaguage in the “net neutrality” provisions. The site talks more about it on pages 26-27 of the polciy paper.

  • Ah, just when I thought the internet was a haven for libertarianism, this nonsense has to rear it’s ugly head. Let’s really take a look at these, shall we?

    1) Declare the Internet a Public Good. What does this even mean? Is the PDF suggesting that the federal government should nationalize the internet? If so, where does it end? Should “the public” (i.e. a handful of bureaucrats in Washington) own the fiber and coax that carry traffic? How about Google’s server farm? The physical stuff that makes up the network we call the Internet all belongs to someone. It is all very much privately owned, and should be. I have the feeling this isn’t what the PDF means, so what do they mean? In practice, making the Internet a “Public Good” means we’re going to cede control over content to the FCC, just like with other telecommunications “Public Goods” like the airwaves. Do you really want the same people who had an aneurysm over Janet Jackson’s covered nipple deciding what can and cannot be accessed on the “public” Internet?

    2) Universal Broadband Access. This belongs in the same category as “a chicken in every pot”, a “guaranteed living wage” for every American, “universal health care” and every other socialist utopian promise of big government. Broadband access may never be “universal” in the sense of having coast-to-coast wireless, or FTTH to every home, but the market will get us as close as is economically viable, so long as the government stays out of the way. Nobody has a “right” to internet access, any more than you have a “right” to health care. The role of government should be to protect the rights of the sovereign people, and nothing more. I don’t trust the government to deliver my mail, I certainly don’t want them trying to deliver broadband access.

    3) Net Neutrality. Ah yes, let’s have the government decide once and for all whether they’re going to allow the lobbyists for Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, etc to write the laws, or whether that privilege goes to the lobbyists for Google, Microsoft, AOL et al. Here’s a better idea: let the market decide! Don’t want “tiered” internet service? Punish companies who offer it by not using their products and services. Let’s not rush to get the government to institute price controls. We tried that with oil in the 1970s. It didn’t work so well, ask your parents.

    4) “Every Child Connected”. Once again, we have a chicken in every pot. It’s interesting that the PDF refers to “No Child Left Behind” here; that particular piece of legislation has been such a complete disaster that it’s a real wonder that people can still seriously believe that national centralized planning can work for anything at all. I’m not saying that having everyone connected to the Internet is a bad thing; far from it. But you guys have to realize that the government is the least efficient mechanism for delivering goods and services of any kind to anyone.

    5) Connected Democracy. Finally, something with which I can agree! Yes, absolutely our federal, state and local governments should be readily transparent through the internet. This is already happening to an extent; you can go to house.gov or senate.gov and actually read the bills that have been introduced to Congress. Expect this trend to continue.

    6) Create a National Tech Corps. Crap, and after 5, I was hoping we’d have at least 2 good ideas. My god people, a “National Tech Corps”? You know who would work for the “National Tech Corps”? People who aren’t quite smart enough to get a job in a real IT shop, that’s who. A National Tech Corps would end up looking like an even more bureaucratic version of GeekSquad, if you can imagine such a beast.

    I’ll give the PDF some modicum of credit, at least they’ve realized that a tech-friendly president would be a good thing, which is a no-brainer. But spare me the notion that government involvement is going to improve things. Government involvement will bring only censorship, higher prices, and a slew of unintended consequences. The best thing the government can do for IT is: Laissez Faire! Hands off, don’t touch, stay out of the way of the productive, private individuals who can actually address the issues.

  • Interesting – what did they mean by a “National Tech Corps” – would this be gov’t employees managing, developing, and deploying our tech infrastructure? if so, not sure I’m keen on that….

  • Wow! This really caught my eye – did you know there actually is a National TECH CORPS® that recruits and engages technical volunteers across the country to help K-12 schools build and effectively use technology? In 1994, Gary Beach, publisher of CIO Magazine, founded this national nonprofit organization dedicated to coordinating the education technology efforts of 10,000 volunteers in the United States; currently, he serves as chairman of this organization, the United States Tech Corps (www.techcorps.com).
    I oversee the operations in Ohio (www.techcorpsohio.org)