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New Hope for Technocrat.net

By rusty in News
Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 04:40:21 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)
Internet

Many of us were disappointed when Bruce Perens announced that his tech policy site Technocrat.net would be shutting down in January. Now it appears that Perens has new plans for the site aiming more at its original goal of getting people involved in technology-policy decisions.


As Perens puts it:
...Technocrat will be re-launched with a new format. It will not be a discussion site any longer. Instead, it will offer tech stories and legislation alerts to be syndicated by other web sites, including discussion sites. There will also be some other features that I'll keep quiet about until the new site is on the air.
So it looks like the days of chatter are over, and Technocrat will be attempting to mobilize the "geek bloc" (assuming that exists) to take action. I've thought for a while that something like this was needed; it will be interesting to see how it goes.

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New Hope for Technocrat.net | 22 comments (13 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
technology experts (4.25 / 4) (#7)
by enterfornone on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 11:50:54 PM EST

Yeah it's already being discussed there, but since it's not a discussion site anymore...

What is a "technology expert"? From what I can tell he's going to turn it into another discussion free news site with a few "expert" contributers. It doesn't really strike me as particularly useful or interesting.

For that matter, what is technology-policy? What sort of "action" does the "geek bloc" need to be taking?

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
Political action (4.33 / 3) (#9)
by rusty on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:18:42 AM EST

What I'd really like to see is a way for clue from the tech-savvy to filter down to the people who actually write legislation. Like it or not, if you want to work within the current American political system, that means you need a PAC (Political Action Committee, aka lobbyists). To get listened to, you either need a large voting constituency (AFL/CIO, FOP, etc), or you need a lot of money (trivia question: who did George Bush meet with first thing after taking office?).

So, do technologists have a large voting constituency? Unfortunately, the answer is "probably not". Hell, I don't vote. How many of you do? We (and I'm making broad sweeping inaccurate generalizations here, please to forgive) also tend to cling to the Romantic "lone idealist" image too much to be easily organized into a meaningful political voice.

Do we have money? Well, it appears that those of us who do are more interested in pushing for legislation to promote their company's short-term needs, rather than society's benefit. So, we're pretty screwed there too.

About the only way "geeks" are going to get a voice in the US government is if we unionize. And that cure's worse than the problem, IMO.

If this is incoherent, and/or idiotic, I'm still sick, and not thinking too clearly. :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

the best site... (4.00 / 2) (#8)
by rebelcool on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:13:08 AM EST

would be one that has easy to use ways of messaging your congress(wo)man. Alot of us get pissed at the stupid decisions that legislators make..but I ask of you.. how many of you actually DO anything about it? Do you write your congressman? Probably not.

This is because most of us are lazy, or just don't have time (poor excuses, both of them). Therefore, what these "tech-legislation" sites need to do is not only TELL about the injustice, but provide an easy-to-use way of writing your congressman (they all have e-mail, and yes, their staffers *do* use e-mail as a public opinion gauge)

You don't want to make this too easy, for fear that some obnoxious twit will just flood a congressman's office with links to goatsex..perhaps a queue? Or a wide range of moderators with different political beliefs.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

Communication with your representatives (4.50 / 2) (#12)
by vectro on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:35:53 AM EST

Congresspeople don't give much credence to e-mail. It's impossible to verify who is actually sending the things, whether or not they are a constituant, etc. Snail mail or a fax are much clearer.

Along those lines, the ACLU has a webpage where if you enter your information, they will send a fax to your representative.

Finally, it's worth pointing out that most politicians DON'T have e-mail. They may have an email address, but the number of congresspeople that actually use a computer is very, very low.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
like i said.. (5.00 / 1) (#15)
by rebelcool on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 10:23:58 AM EST

staffers typically read it. Staffers typically use the fax machines as well... thats what they are there for. They gauge public opinions using all manners of things including, e-mail. All the more so if the e-mail received is well written. Which leads to my point about having moderation done on them to prevent hordes of goatsex links being sent to them.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

If you think a site needs to exist.. (5.00 / 1) (#19)
by chuqui on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:11:19 PM EST

>would be one that has easy to use ways of messaging your congress(wo)man.

Start typing! you don't need governmental approval to put up a web site. Anything you feel is important to have done, you better plan on doing (because the rest of us are off doing the things *we* feel are important...)


-- Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com> <kuro@chuqui.com> "The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging"
[ Parent ]
see thats the thing... (4.00 / 1) (#20)
by rebelcool on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:28:06 PM EST

i have other things to do myself :) lord knows i have enough projects as it is... though I might be able to apply alot of my community code to something like this..hum... *puts on thinking cap*

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Don't we all.. (5.00 / 1) (#21)
by chuqui on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 05:19:43 PM EST

> i have other things to do myself ..

(heh)

don't we all. But if you look at www.hockeyfanz.com -- it can be done, if you think it's important enough.

Now, if my ISP would only get their DSL network running again... As I type, it's down, so you can't look at it.. (whimper)




-- Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com> <kuro@chuqui.com> "The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging"
[ Parent ]
Action Network (5.00 / 1) (#22)
by MrEfficient on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 05:59:12 PM EST

I believe that the ActionNetwork site was designed for this purpose. I have never tried it, but I think it allows people to set up what they call domains for various purposes. Most of them seem to be for environmental concerns but I don't think its limited to that.

A domain administrator can post action alerts which might warrant peoples attention. The site allows readers to fill out a pre-written letter (they can also edit it), and have it faxed to a representative.


[ Parent ]

Fragmentation (5.00 / 1) (#13)
by Seumas on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 03:55:18 AM EST

My concern with ventures like this is that while they are well-intentioned, they very often only serve to fragment the power and force of groups. Everyone wants to start up their own little cause and group to fight the same issues that ten other groups are fighting. I'm not sure why this is, but I too can easily see myself falling into that trap. Perhaps it's because so many people feel they can do a better job and want to feel like they're doing more than just being another cog in the wheel of someone else's organization. Granted, this is Perens -- so it isn't like it's some average Joe Coffeemug starting yet another group, but I wonder -- is it really better to have many small factions fighting seperately for the same causes or is it better to have one large group? Or, further, would it be best to have many factions, but have them network together to represent themselves as a united front when necessary for effectiveness?
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
It's too bad the discussion is going. (5.00 / 1) (#14)
by kipster on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 09:07:39 AM EST

The reason many of us like sites like Kuro5hin and the old Technocrat is because many people chimed in with worthwhile thoughts. Perens actions don't make sense. He claims it was too much work before when he would toss up a few notes and let the audience do most of the writing. Now he's going to actually edit/write/produce the entire site? I can't see how he'll have the time. It's going to suffer immensely.

What's sad is that a number of people volunteered to take it over and he seems to be ignoring them all.

Amount of work (5.00 / 1) (#17)
by antizeus on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 11:27:55 AM EST

Bruce used to heavily edit the comments on Technocrat. I think this is what was taking up all his time. It may very well be that posting a few stories a day will require less effort than maintaining strict editorial control over the submissions of a bunch of random individuals.
-- $SIGNATURE
[ Parent ]
True, but..... (5.00 / 1) (#18)
by chuqui on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:06:40 PM EST

>The reason many of us like sites like Kuro5hin and the old Technocrat is because many people chimed in with worthwhile thoughts.

Which is a valid concept, but not the only one. One of the problems of places like this is that the expert voices don't get precedence over everyone else, so they can easily get lost in the noise (not intended in a negative context, but I can't think of a better word).

Another problem is that sites like this tend to work quickly, but shallow. There's little depth and complexity to the discussions, and not a lot of research or reflection.

A third problem with sites like this is there's no good signposts available for users to determine who the experts are -- everyone has to make up their own minds from the context, and on sites like this, context tends to force discussions to a general consensus, which may or may not be an informed consensus. So an informed contrary voice tends to get lost...

So there's a need for both the open discussion, which works wonderfully as an information concentrator and as a way of flagging emerging stories, and for sites that are aimed more for formal essay, with more knowledgable users taking a slower, more studied look at issues. It'd be nice to also be able to discuss those views, but there's no need for that to be on the site distributing the messages.

If you think of this as a learning system, sites like this are the group discussion classes, and Technocrat seems to be reinventing itself more as a lecture class. Both have their uses and both have their strengths and weaknesses (can you imagine learning calculus as a group discussion? Chaos...) -- but a lecture class is only as strong and as interesting as the lecturer, so it's going to depend a lot more on the person running it and the people he chooses to contribute. But it sure sounds to me like it's worth a shot.

>What's sad is that a number of people volunteered to take it over and he seems to be ignoring them all.

why are you assuming he ignored them? More likely, that's not what he wanted to do. It wouldn't be the first time someone decided it was time to rethink a web site and do something differently -- and since it's his site, isn't that his right? he clearly has a view of what he wants out of the site, what he was getting wasn't that, and he's trying something different. More power to him.

If you like the current set up, work up a deal to grab his software and put up and run a new site using it. Nobody's stopping you..


-- Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com> <kuro@chuqui.com> "The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging"
[ Parent ]
New Hope for Technocrat.net | 22 comments (13 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
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