Thursday, January 03, 2008


No, not World of Warcraft. Wow. As in "Wow! Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses!" Now, before we get overly giddy, the 340,000 people who caucused represented less than 12% of the population of Iowa and Iowa represents less than 1% of the US population. So 0.1% of the US population has driven Brian Williams of NBC News to say "Iowa has changed the course of American politics in ways we're just now coming to grips with." Please.

The biggest problem with this hyperkinetic spin is that it makes it easy to lose sight of some very real events. Obama won! I haven't met him, but I have met many of his advisers and they are some very smart, very dedicated people.

People I'd want to hire. Yeah, that good. A bit of giddiness is warranted!

Have you read his technology document? I was planning to sign onto to it, but unfortunately events outside my control hit just when they announced it. Better late than never, so let me state here that his tech position is the best I've seen out of any of the candidates.

Is it perfect? No, as others have pointed out. I have particular concerns about proper balance of a CTO versus the mostly unfunded Office of Technology Assessment, balance of inward and outward focus, and insufficient focus on the connections between learning and innovation.

But these are quibbles. The other guy who won in Iowa doesn't believe in evolution.

I'll take the slightly flawed technology plan, please.

We -- as a community, a nation, a species -- exist in a world of accelerating technological and scientific progress. The rest of the world is moving ahead along the exponential curves defined by productivity and per capita GDP growth. Curves defined by innovation. By knowledge.

By science.

Curves that leave you very far behind if you don't keep up. 25 years ago, South Korea's per capita GDP was less than 2/3 of Mexico's. Just two decades of compounded growth later, Korea is over twice Mexico's. And pulling away.

We've had 8 years of political meddling in science and technology. I'm thrilled that a few Iowans decided it has to stop. Let's see what New Hampshire does.


Alvis Brigis said...

Nicely stated. It's essential that we get an accel-aware candidate into office. Obama's clearly laid out the best tech policy, earning him support from the likes of Larry Lessig. Am interested to see how it will all play out in the blogosphere, especially if celeb bloggers all line up behind one candidate. We'll have to wait for the general election to see just how big an issue sci/tech/innovation will turn out to be, but it could be huge.

David Orban said...

All countries are interconnected today, and few more so than the USA. I feel today the need to endorse, and, albeit fictitiously, vote for a candidate in the coming elections. I have chosen to endorse Obama several months ago, publicly, and I am very glad to see the way his campaign is moving ahead.

Unknown said...

The vote in Iowa wasn't about science or evolution or intelligent design or anything like that, those weren't the main issues.

Candidates may have positions on these matters that you like or don't like, but it not scientific to say that the voters in Iowa voted over the issue of "science".

Science means keeping an open mind and critiquing all theories, not just believing in one, as if it were a religion.