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Posted at 1:22 PM ET, 12/ 1/2010

Technology matters

By Ezra Klein

David Pogue runs through 10 lessons he's learned in 10 years covering technology. It's a good list, but I'd add one more: I think the cool, knowing thing is to dismiss a lot of the breathless gadget-hype out there, but I'm becoming increasingly convinced that this stuff matters much more than most people are willing to admit. I remember poo-pooing Twitter a few years ago, but now the micro-writing service is an important part of not just my life, but many millions of other people's lives. Frankly, I can't get my head around the implications of Facebook having 500,000,000 members -- and growing. And these are young technologies that people are just starting to figure out. We really don't know their full reach and potential.

I was talking with Tim Wu on Tuesday, and he argued that the direction these technologies take are going to be much more important in terms of human freedom than most of the policy decisions we're likely to make in the near future. And he's probably right about that. Cell phones open communication options for the third world that were inconceivable years ago. Authoritarian regimes struggle to lock the internet down, but are only partially successful. Privacy norms are being totally transformed. People who have trouble navigating traditional social situations suddenly have a whole new expanse of both commercial and personal opportunities to traverse. All this stuff matters, and the enabling technologies and ideas are coming so fast that the coverage is almost necessarily breathless. But that doesn't mean it's wrong.

By Ezra Klein  | December 1, 2010; 1:22 PM ET
 
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Comments

Also, and I am biased since I cover this market, CIOs and technology often play a tertiary role in business - even when the companies foundation is built on tech. In government, the US didn't have a prominent CIO department until this administration (as far as I know).

Why does Congress never include technological innovation in budget saving measures (minus medical records)? The UK is moving to cloud computing for instance. Although we focus on the changes IT can make to the lives in the developing world, the truth is that it can improve the lives of the poor, and the population in general, of the US as well.

Posted by: chrisgaun | December 1, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

"I was talking with Tim Wu on Tuesday, and he argued that the direction these technologies take are going to be much more important in terms of human freedom than most of the policy decisions we're likely to make in the near future."

I would argue that these are becoming darker days for freedom, not the opposite. As most people now know those ubiquitous cell phones not only give away your location, but can actually be turned into a listening device without your knowledge or consent.

We could go and on, but every piece of tech that gives you new freedom, also has the nascent implication of government control in a much greater way. Next up, the cashless society, where our children will be under a very tight restriction/monitoring in their financial dealings, unknown to us today.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 1, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Here is a great article about technology.

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/06/computer_programs_replace_fore.html

Looking to squeeze under the state spending cap, Ridgewood honed in on Spanish classes for children in grades 3-5. They introduced an interactive computer program in which students listen to lessons on headsets, using a computer mouse to answer questions and a microphone to practice words and phrases. A regular classroom teacher supervises.


The private sector has long realized that automation and technological progress can result in increased productivity and reduced labor need.

The public sector has fed funds into the Democratic party and grown out of control, continuously feeding at the trough.

It is good to see they are catching on. Best of all, software doesn't need a bloated pension and healthcare.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 1, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

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