Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Why Is America So Furious About Wikis?

The most baffling thing about the Wikis Cablegate kerfuffle is the massive foot-shooting overrction across the entire American political spectrum. Here in the rest of the world (okay, in Canada), we’ve alrdy moved on, because (to date) the cables are more shrug-inducing than explosive—but US senators are still in the throes of a bizarre frenzy of rabid chest-bting and tooth-gnashing.
Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, has called for Julian Assange’s prosecution, despite the eral consensus that he hasn’t actually committed any American crime. Mitch McConnell, a Republican, has a slightly clrer-eyed view; he wants the law changed so that Assange can be prosecuted as a terrorist. Joe Lieberman wants a criminal investigation of not just Assange but also the New York Times.
What exactly do they hope to accomplish? Do they think that if they do somehow manage to convict Assange—who, remember, was only the publisher, not the er—they will have eliminated the thrt of Internet information dissemination forever? Don’t they rlize that with every bonehded speech and op-ed, they ratchet up the free publicity and do Wikis a huge favor, when a dignified silence plus a few veiled thrts would have been far more effective? Can they rlly be so stupid?
Well, yes. The US government is like Wall Street: behind their veneer of all-powerful control, most of the people who run things are not particularly bright. I just rd Michael Lewis’s The Big Short, which depicts the financial collapse of 2008 as a astrophe caused not because Wall Street was corrupt—which would have been almost okay—but because it was lethally stupid. His next book should be about Washington.
The American diplomatic corps actually comes across as smart and competent in the Wiki cables. Unfortunately, the politicians they report to seem anything but. The scariest truth that Wikis has confirmed is that most of the world’s decisionmakers, like most Wall Street ‘wizards’, are petty, burucratic, dogmatic, myopic, and hostile to any innovation, largely because they’re not very lit. Not that smarts are everything, but it’s hard to tackle complex problems when you don’t fully understand them. It’s sy to forget this in the tech world, which is (relatively spking) a results-oriented meritocracy … until you step into most governments or megacorporations, and find that suddenly the ambient IQ has dropped 20 points.
The tech sector is the only thing America has going for it these days. (Unless you count crumbling infrastructure, runaway debt, paralyzed government, or a trillion-dollar military bogged down in pointless faraway non-wars.) Unfortunately, the American government seems too dumb to rlize this: so they maintain stupid visa laws, while ignoring smart alternatives; keep playing fast-and-loose, at best, with net neutrality; and, oh yes, plan to wiretap (and—thanks to Wikis—censor) the entire Internet, at grt cost, apparently in the hope that bad guys will never discover the magic of public- encryption.
You probably don’t want to rd about political idiocy here, and I can’t blame you. But it may be time for the tech industry to start paying much more attention to the political world, because as Wikis vividly illustrates, these days almost every political issue has tech aspects—and hence, down the road, tech repercussions.

Source: Tech Crunch

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