President Technology Platforms: McCain vs Obama

Is there any difference between the technology platform of a presidential candidate who’s admitted to not using email (McCain) and someone (Obama) who’s raised more money through small donations on the web than anyone in world history?

Maybe just a little.

Larry Lessig breaks it down now that McCain has gotten around to actually having a technology platform:

As Lessig explains, McCain sat on the Senate committee that watched America drop from 5th to 22nd in the world in broadband Internet penetration per capita. This doesn’t mean we’ve gone backwards. We’re just running like a Division III athlete competing against Olympians.

McCain is also more interested in providing incentives to large corporations than fostering competition that could lead to lower prices and better performance through innovation.

Government Accountability through Technology

One of Obama’s most significant technology positions isn’t a technology issue but a philosophical position about open government: He wants to use the web to increase government accountability by providing easily consumable and analyzable access to what your money is being spent on.

Obama wants to make it easy for people to call BS on irrational spending by providing easy access to government data while McCain is still trying to figure out how to use AOL. I don’t care if you’re on the left, right, Loony Left or Militia Right, everyone wins if they have better access to how our money is being spent. Until we have access to the facts, arguing about whether our money is being spent well or not is nearly impossible to do (unless you’re Ron Paul, who’s convinced that no money spent by the government is well spent).

This country needs better arguments. By that, I mean we have to first find common ground on where we stand through better access to government data. With that in hand, we can argue about whether our money is being spent wisely or not. And yes, that ranges from spending on social issues to the latest no-bid contract awarded to Dick Cheney’s hunting pals.

And we may find, along the way, that technological innovation happens faster when the government – such as McCain’s Senate committee that watched America slide from 5th to 22nd for broadband access – stops subsidizing top donors and starts letting the market determine who’s best.

3 thoughts on “President Technology Platforms: McCain vs Obama”

  1. Ed, I agree with you as far as the concept goes. But I must say as someone who has spent time digging through government budgets already accessible — and I’m sure you know this — the technology to provide better access to data is only a small part of serving up information that enables more informed positions for more people.

    Government finance is amazingly complex. Whatever solutions emerge will require a lot of process alignment and mediation behind the user interface. It can be done, but there is huge cost to the work that a lot of people unfortunately will not see as a good use of their tax dollars.

    MNSCU recently launched an accountability tool; it remains to be seen how many will use it. Minnesota had a pretty good report called Minnesota Milestones during the Carlson administration that got whacked in the budget cuts early in the decade, along with virtually the entire state planning department.

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