Tuesday, August 13, 2002

I Code and I Vote!

In his recent article, Geeks in government: A good idea? - Tech News - CNET.com, Declan McCullagh exposes some grim truths. First geeks should stop politicking and write code that disrupts the status quo (think Napster, Gnutella, Anonyomizer, PGP, etc). Second geek lobbies are ill suited to politics because they are blunt, direct, and lack the finesse required for success. I have to admit that after seeing the headline of the article I was nearly outraged that anyone would suggest that geeks should drop all this political "hacktivism" but I think McCullagh is on to something. If Phil Zimmerman was politically active prior to writing PGP then it's quite possible strong encryption would have never made it into the hands of the masses. Or if Shawn Fanning was busy engaging the trolls at the RIAA in dialog on the future of the music industry Napster may never have been born. So maybe there is a third way. Do what we do best and vote with our tech savvy. Politicians will listen to people who give them money and people who give them votes. Start at the local level. Make sure your municipality is using technology wisely. Better yet make sure money they are taking from your wallet for technology gets spent wisely. Remember you have the power of the vote. You don't always have to vote for lower taxes.

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