Anil Dash Rejects Mike Arrington's Politics
BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, June 8 2010
Anil Dash, director of Expert Labs and a vet of blogging start-up Six Apart, tears apart Mike Arrington's contention that the best thing that the Obama Administration can do for Silicon Valley is to leave it alone:
This advice is naive, misguided and short-sighted and if followed, will yield less opportunity and potential for startups in the future. If the tech industry's innovators ignore government policy, it will instead be decided entirely by those who are uninformed about policy, in cahoots with the monied forces of legacy technology and media companies. Insulting government and dismissing it won't make it go away, and ignores the potential it provides for supporting new opportunities.
That said, as TechCrunch's Arrington notes in comments in Dash's post, the two do seem to be talking past each other. Arrington's argument, ridiculous or not, is that the delicate ecosystem that is Silicon Valley -- as an industrial center -- would find its balance upset if government were to get more involved in its workings. To dive deeper, the view is that while Silicon Valley might not be perfect, Arrington is discouraged enough in how the Obama administration has handled everything from net neutrality to H-1B visas to turn him sour on the idea that a more activist government role in the technology industry would be, in the end, a good thing. Dash's pushes back on a somewhat different idea, dismantling the notion that technologists are being smart to stay out of the policy and political debates surrounding tech (and using video of Susan Crawford's PdF '10 on "Rethinking Broadband" talk to do it).
But Arrington is actually engaging in the political debate, even if he is adopting the Randian vision of the Silicon Valley as a cyber utopia nestled in northern California that, frankly, I'd though had fallen out of favor even in that part of the world. You can make the case that technologists sticking their fingers in their ears when it comes to politics is the real thing to go after here, rather than those in the tech world who would argue for the Federal Communications Commission to regulate broadband under Title I vs. Title II or whatever the case may be. Arrington might be making a specious argument. But baked right into Arrington's rant is an admission that there is for sure a political and policy component to what tech entrepreneurs do. That's an opening to discussion, if handled correctly.
Anyway, the whole thing is still worth a read.
And for more on the Expert Labs project that frames Dash's perspective, you could go ahead and read my interview with him from April.