Misplaced Technological Optimism

It’s cliché that Congress frequently passes lengthy bills that nobody has read, much less understood.  Having read a fair number of bills, I will push back just a little, noting that most bills are not the epic thousand page tomes that draw this well-understood outrage.  Some bills don’t get bogged down with details, leaving the specifics (usually codified in regulations) to the implementing agencies.

Technology Liberation Front has a post that includes an interview with Senator Carper of Delaware having no problem with not reading or understanding bills, since that’s what Congress members have staffs for.  That’s a lousy attitude, but the post goes on to claim that since bills are now available online that the people will come to expect their legislators to read and understand the bills, since the people have that opportunity.  Given the general complacency of the American public, I sincerely doubt that average people outside of Washington will take to reading bills or chiding their legislators for not.  Strike one for technological optimism, one of many brands of optimism that fail to keep shape once plans meet implementation.  Give people technology and they will use it, and use it to change the world in the way we think they will?  When was the last time that happened?

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4 thoughts on “Misplaced Technological Optimism

    • I can only think of concrete, but limited, results from two of those links (the Iranian election results have stood, and MoveOn.org doesn’t appear to be that different, or that more successful, than other advocacy groups). The other links provide resources that depend on people using them to be effective. What is the evidence showing that something has happened?

      It’s great to have these resources available, and I’d love to see more. But to assume that practices will eventually change as a result of having those resources is folly.

      And what’s with the pseudonym? Do you want to get caught in WordPress spam filters?

  1. Pingback: How Much Transparency Is Necessary? « Pasco Phronesis

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