John McCain released a technology policy. For the most part, I am not qualified to comment on it, but I appreciate that it is more an "innovation" policy than a "technology" policy.

That said, I am completely shocked by some of the responses from the techno-left on this. They seem to actively desire the government to engage in social engineering through industrial policy. It is terrifying.

I first saw this in Micah Sifry’s tweet yesterday.

to McCain, the net appears to be just an economic engine. A series of tubes, if you will.

I was startled by this when I read it. "Just an economic engine" is not a bad thing to my mind. This thing that is "just an economic engine" has dramatically transformed our lives in a small number of years. But I just thought it was weird. Then I read this at Joho the Blog:

To McCain, the Internet is all about business. It’s about people working and buying stuff. There is nothing — nothing — in his policy statement that acknowledges that maybe the Net is also a new way we citizens are connecting with one another. The phrase “free speech” does not show up in it. The term “democracy” does not show up in it. What’s the opposite of visionary?

The most generous reading of this is unserious technology fetishism. Why should a document about government’s economic levers in encouraging innovation talk about "democracy"? The most alarming reading is that everything we do should be subordinated to technology. But it doesn’t stop there.

Joho later says, "Even if we ignore the cultural, social, and democratic aspects of the Net …" Does he really want government policy to regulate the "cultural, social, and democratic" aspects of anything? Should these be the subject of tax policy? Which government agency? Should we make a new "Federal Cultural and Social Regulatory Agency?"

For real guys. Do you want government guiding the way in the creation of cultural or social practices?

Now, "democracy" is a seperate question. But here, McCain and the RNC have actually put resources and time where the Democrats and Obama have not. There is much more of a mechanism for feedback on the RNC platform. McCain actually uses participatory — as in "Partcipatory Democracy Forum" — frameworks as the default mode of campaigning.  Sure he doesn’t blackberry and SMS with Scarlett Johansen, but so what? And what does that tell us about "democracy"?

On another level, the transformative impact of technology on our lives is occurring precisely because of economics. Lowered transaction and manufacturing costs are allowing interactions and connections that could not happen before. But why have the government drive that? Let’s have the government facilitate the innovation and let everyone drive it.

Categories: Syndicated