A tidy bit of analysis by a friend and former colleague of mine, Kevin Bankston. He has long advocated for many of the benefits to be found at the intersection of science fiction and policy. His article is rich with excellent examples, demonstrating a growing and broadening set of trends of purposeful exploration via science fiction.
I linked to James Boyle’s discussion of Obama’s first year with regards to copyright. This was in the post where I also pointed out Ed Felten’s broader discussion of his progress on technology policy.
Boyle has re-posted his article which I was peripherally aware was behind a partial pay wall. If you had trouble access his article, follow the link for the full text, available directly on his own site.
James Boyle has a pretty good write up of the mostly poor performance of the Obama administration on issues of copyright in its first year. He admits that their reversal before WIPO on the treaty that would grant an exception for reason of access by those with disabilities is praiseworthy. But he reminds us that this is a small victory indeed and mostly seems larger because of the constant push towards an absolute copyright.
Worse, the participation of the US in negotiations as part of ACTA far out shadows such a meager win for limits and exceptions. It is all the worse considering how the US has been complicit in the secrecy surrounding this trade agreement.
Ed Felten has a survey of how the administration has done more generally with technology policy in the same span. Despite the US role in ACTA, otherwise he rates Obama’s administration well on transparency. The rest of the landscape is not so rosy–the plans to provide universal access are too immature to judge progress, the cultural gap between policy makers and technologists persists, and the cyberczar post was largely gutted of effectual power by internal squabbling.
It seems odd to me that transparency, which hinges on access to information and innovative thinking, hasn’t provided cause to think hard about copyright and technology policy since they also depend on similar values. Perhaps it is too early, yet, for them to realize this connection. Maybe it will prove a fruitful angle to exploit in the years to come to try to shift these areas in need of the same sort of positive attention.
As the Washington Post explains (via Slashdot), this appointment will fulfill Obama’s seven month old promise to bring on an adviser specifically to coordinate on issues of security as relates to computer and network infrastructure across the federal government. Schmidt at least has some prior experience, advising the George W. Bush administration.
Many have already commented on this White House post, noting that it is largely fang-less. At least the Washington Post sheds some light as to the possible reason, some disagreement about the org chart. Since the role is not just meant to work on government systems but includes in its purview overseeing the security of our national network infrastructure, I guess putting it under national security makes sense. However, a White House adviser also wants the so-called cyber-security czar to report to him as well, arguing that oversight of the network will also have ramifications for the nation’s economy.
Bruce Schneier pretty much sums it up, explaining why so many luminaries like himself and Gene Spafford would have turned down the appointment if they had been approached. It really is puzzling that the mandate is so aggressive but the power to support it is utterly lacking. As Bruce says, perhaps Obama will rectify that once Schmidt is installed.