Hangin With the Not

By Chris Nolan  |  Posted 2005-08-25 Print this article Print

-So-Technical Crowd"> Congress may go on fact-finding missions around the world at the drop of a hat but when it comes to doing its job, its members are like most folks—they rely on people they know and trust. Just like everyone else. And many of those trusted sources are lobbyists from large, established companies who understand that politics is vital to their businesses. Outside of Washington this is seen as corrupt and, certainly, it has its less-than-attractive aspects. But it is—for better or worse—the way business is conducted in Washington. More importantly, the folks who have been doing business this way see little reason to change. First of all, these large companies arent just monolithic entities that abuse their customers. They are businesses. They employ people. They add to the nations gross national product. They contribute to our prosperity as a nation.
So when they make arguments about how their businesses—sometimes their multibillion-dollar businesses—can be harmed, politicians listen. Carefully. After all, making sure the national economy thrives is part of their job. Hollywood has been making a variation on this argument—protection from piracy via copyright—for many years. The phone companies will make it when it comes to telecom legislation in a variety of ways: to combat the spread of free wireless for instance or to argue that voice over IP should be better regulated. And, only recently, has the tech industry, as a whole, been giving Congress a choice.
Now none of this strikes tech folks as fair. But the change that many in Silicon Valley are calling for—immediate adoption of laws that enable the new networked life—strikes many in Congress as both foolhardy and unrealistic. Who can afford all this new stuff? And what exactly is it good for? Do you really need to get phone calls all the time? And just look at all that porn and trash talk on the Internet. Thats not good. If Congress cant understand what tech folks are proposing, how are voters and constituents going to get it? In many respects, the attitude comes down to this simple difference: Change, in Washington, is not always for the better. Because change brings risk. The moderate compromise, and stability, is the preferred state of affairs. Thats why the long view—if you dont like the law, come back and show us why we made a mistake—is the one that almost always triumphs. Next week, well talk about the other side of this equation: Techs love—indeed, its ability to thrive—with change. eWEEK.com technology and politics columnist Chris Nolan spent years chronicling the excesses of the dot-com era with incisive analysis leavened with a dash of humor. Before that, she covered politics and technology in D.C. You can read her musings on politics and technology every day in her Politics from Left to Right Weblog. She can be reached at mailbox@chrisnolan.com. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis of technologys impact on government and politics.

Standalone journalist Chris Nolan runs 'Politics from Left to Right,' a political Web site at www.chrisnolan.com that focuses on the intersection of politics, technology and business issues in San Francisco, in California and on the national scene.

Nolan's work is well-known to tech-savvy readers. Her weekly syndicated column, 'Talk is Cheap,' appeared in The New York Post, Upside, Wired.com and other publications. Debuting in 1997 at the beginnings of the Internet stock boom, it covered a wide variety of topics and was well regarded for its humor, insight and news value.

Nolan has led her peers in breaking important stories. Her reporting on Silicon Valley banker Frank Quattrone was the first to uncover the now infamous 'friend of Frank' accounts and led, eventually, to Quattrone's conviction on obstruction of justice charges.

In addition to columns and Weblogging, Nolan's work has appeared in The Washington Post, The New Republic, Fortune, Business 2.0 and Condé, Nast Traveler, and she has spoken frequently on the impact of Weblogging on politics and journalism.

Before moving to San Francisco, Nolan, who has more than 20 years of reporting experience, wrote about politics and technology in Washington, D.C., for a series of television trade magazines. She holds a B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University.


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel