the US Need Another Chief Technical Officer?
by Tim Swanson
by Tim Swanson
The first CTO
is the 30-year old, federally governed National Telecommunication
and Information Administration which formulates policy and advises
the president. During the Clinton-administration one of its ventures
was the National Information Initiative which siphoned billions
of taxpayer money into a slew of unproductive projects. This has
been chronicled in the "$200 Billion Broadband Scandal" by Bruce
CTO is the collective lobbying from the special interests of Big
Telecom. Many of these firms not only receive legal protection over
"last-mile" services, but billions in subsidies in the
form of another federally managed project, the Universal Service
Fund. And they just threw themselves a big party (for
The third CTO,
which has led a centuries old, heroic fight against federal regulators,
is the individual innovator and tax producing consumer.
to some pundits, the US needs a fourth CTO, in the form of another
As Peter Klein
has previously noted,
while government contracts may have invented the internet, private
entrepreneurs transformed it into something useful.
prior to deregulation, it was downright criminal to try and compete
against a federally managed AT&T. And a plethora of whiz-bang
inventions stayed inside monolithic government-funded laboratories
because those that had invented them had no incentive to repackage
them for everyday consumption.
It was not
until guys like Steve Jobs figured out ways to commercialize them
that their full potential was tapped. Similarly, it was not until
the late 1980s when the nationally funded backbones and data centers
were privatized and commercialized that the Internet became useful
and accessible to both the masses the innovative entrepreneur.
In fact, the
prime mover behind productive web 2.0 applications and services
has continually been private entrepreneurs. Not a single flagship
web 2.0 application was invented by government-related contracts.
Similarly all of the innovation that has taken place in the WiFi
arena was directly related to the fact that the federal government
no longer licenses the 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz areas of the
it or not, but when the FCC actually opened up the ISM frequencies
in the early 1980s, they made themselves irrelevant
in the process. With any luck, white space devices will continue
this trend of self-immolation.
members of the digerati are missing the underlying libertarian theme
of deregulation within the past developments.
what do the following men have in common?
- Mitch Kapor
of the EFF
- Robert Scoble
an A-list blogger formerly of Microsoft
- Larry Lessig
creator of Creative Commons
- Nate Anderson
Kanellos of CNet
- Cory Doctorow
- Vint Cerf
- Om Malik
- Erick Schonfeld
All of these
individuals are not only at the forefront of analyzing the latest
technology trends, but all of them have advocated for more federal
management of both telecom and computer innovation.
US needs a technology CTO just like it needs a chief textile officer
or CTO of dinette sets. The prescription for future innovation is
not an Obama tech czar, but less regulation in which the entrepreneur
is disciplined by consumer dollars, and not political action committees
or the Politburo.
Alexander Graham Bellís patent 130 years ago, every administration
and Congress has attempted to regulate, manage and oversee a swath
of technology-related industries. And it has only held back the
industries from developing and innovating.
is time to try a new modus operandi: no government intervention,
there is one message to get behind each and every year, just say
no to CTO.
Swanson [send him mail]
is a graduate of Texas A&M University. He currently lives in
South Korea and is a free-lance IT consultant. Visit his blog.
© 2008 LewRockwell.com