by Aaron Harper
Imagine a world where you can do whatever you want whenever you want. Sounds like paradise until everyone else′s freedom encroaches on yours. The only way to keep what is yours is to defend it … a wild west culture. Now imagine a world where you are monitored 24 hours a day. There are no freedoms except those explicitly granted by law. While this solves many of the problems in the previous world, it creates its own issues and stifles creativity and innovation.
While we enjoy the middle of the road right now, the Internet could easily devolve into one of these extremes. The problem stems from organizations and special interest groups, each with their own agendas. All are trying to con ignorant and sometimes apathetic politicians into making rules that work in their favor. Some want more freedom; some want tighter control. It′s all about who can make the best presentation.
Some elected officials are so uninformed that they present the Internet as “a series of tubes” (Senator Ted Stevens, R-AK, Chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee discussing the Net Neutrality Bill). These gaffes indicate a shocking lack of knowledge in those who determine how we use technology. Legislators may be making decisions about technology they have never used. It′s like having the Amish decide for a highway department or an electric utility. It′s a recipe for disaster, and it′s also completely unfair to saddle them with that sort of task. It sets them up for failure and takes their attention away from what they should be doing.
There are tech savvy elected officials. Al Gore was one example. He had messages put within the code of his website specifically for technically savvy visitors. The math worked in his budget. It should be noted that Vice President Gore never claimed to have “invented the internet." That rumor was based upon a comment taken out of context, that took on a life of its own. Vint Cerf, the father of the internet, said that Gore “played a powerful role in policy terms that has supported its continued growth
and application, for which we should be thankful. We′re fortunate to have senior level members of Congress and the Administration who embrace new technology and have the vision to see how it can be put to work for national and global benefit.” (V. Cerf 1999 in an MSNBC interview) Love him or hate him, Gore is tech savvy.
The Internet is a new frontier, comprised of data rather than land. If we expect technically savvy leadership, we have to put it there. This is a democratic system of government after all. Vote for someone with a brain, not someone who says what you want to hear and fails to back it up. Check their math and voting record. Lazy and apathetic voters beget lazy and apathetic politicians. As Benjamin Franklin said, “In a democracy, we get the government we deserve.”