Info Wants to Be

By Chris Nolan  |  Posted 2004-10-27 Print this article Print

Free"> First of all, it denies access to (nonmilitary, nondiplomatic) U.S. residents living abroad. And it does seem like a bit of overkill to deny information about the campaign to some potential voters but not to others. Besides, tech folks know that information, as the idealist used to say, wants to be free. Thats the lighthearted way of talking about how the Internet—always on, always connected, growing more ubiquitous and more powerful all the time—actually works. So, again, its easy to conclude that the Bush campaign doesnt really understand the tools its using. Blocking access to the campaign site wont last, and itll only temporarily halt any Web-based breeches. Just ask the Chinese government how successful its attempts to keep out information carried on the Internet have been.
And just as an aside, how is it that the campaign effort to re-elect a U.S. president comes to embrace the tactics used by a government not exactly known for its open approach to information? Ill leave the cheap cracks on that observation to the peanut gallery.
Either way—whether they meant it as defense or offense—the Bush campaign has miscalculated here. Or maybe they thought no one would be looking. Either way, theyre squarely in the "dont get it" camp. This has implications well beyond the Web, as a recent article—one I wrote about last week on this site—by Richard Florida points out. International commerce is U.S. commerce; there is a thinner and thinner line between the two. Click here for the column on Floridas article, in which he addresses a U.S. "creativity crisis." An increasing amount of international commerce is conducted via the Internet. Its the Net thats bringing home the war in new ways, not all of them comforting. Its the Net thats making it possible to hire Indians in India to work for U.S. companies. Its the Net thats making China a giant electronics and toy manufacturer. And politics aside—in favor of the Iraqi invasion, against it; supportive of corporate use of outsourced workers or adamantly opposed—the inability to see that link between how a Web site is run and how international trade is being conducted, especially when its accompanied by failure to address a common e-commerce problem, is big trouble. If the Bush-Cheney campaign "gets it," it has a funny way of saying so. 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. Check out eWEEK.coms Government Center at for the latest news and analysis of technologys impact on government practices and regulations, as well as coverage of the government IT sector.

Standalone journalist Chris Nolan runs 'Politics from Left to Right,' a political Web site at 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, 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.


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