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O'Reilly: Why Tech Business Should Support Obama

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Tim O’Reilly had a simple message for the tech community earlier this week at the Emerging Technology conference: Support Obama! Wait, isn’t the campaign over? It may be, but the next presidential contest is already around the corner, and O’Reilly believes that there’s only a short window of opportunity to actually innovate in Washington. That’s why he wants to get tech folks involved now. I sat down with him yesterday to hear more about his plans to help the new administration.

“We have this wonderful opportunity with this new president who is saying he wants to make government more transparent, more collaborative, more responsive,”O’Reilly told me, adding: “We know how to build systems like that.” One of his favored examples is Carl Malamud, who launched the first free and public EDGAR server for SEC filings without any government help back in 1993, only to donate it to the SEC shortly after. “This idea of public-private partnership is fairly central to my thinking,”O’Reilly told me. “One of the opportunities for people on the outside is to shoulder more of the burden and build services that government has a hard time building itself,” O’Reilly said.

Of course, building such databases is a lot easier when you have a federal administration that committed to publishing government data online. “It is very clear that the Obama administration understands startup culture,” O’Reilly says. However, there are still lots and lots of people within and close to the government that view making data public with suspicion. Said O’Reilly: “Many people in these organizations are threatened by the idea that some young developer could say, ‘I can build for $5,000 or in six weeks something that you are gonna say takes six years and $50 million.’ ”

So, how do you convince official agencies to trust that young developer, and how do you get that developer to start toying with government data? First of all, by getting them to talk. O’Reilly Media is holding a Gov 2.0 Summit this September in Washington with the goal to showcase innovation inside and outside of the government. (Wired launched an “Open Up Government Data” wiki earlier this week, as well.)

And then, there’s always money. The new administration loves technology partly because it’s cheaper, O’Reilly speculated. “A lot of it is: How do we get more bang for our buck?,” he said. However, it’s not just about spending less: “Reinventing our sources and distribution systems for energy, reinventing our educational system, reinventing our communications infrastructure are all very powerful stimuluses for new economic activity.”

In other words: Supporting the new administration could turn out to be the Valley’s very own stimulus plan.

5 Responses to “O'Reilly: Why Tech Business Should Support Obama”

  1. michael


    This article *is* about tech industry. Just because Janko says something you don’t like doesn’t mean somehow this article is not about tech.

    Your comment has far, far, far more *non-tech related* statements in just 3 lines than Janko’s whole article. And Janko’s not shoving anything down your throat – if you don’t like it, you can always…

  2. Stick to tech analysis guys. Just because Silicon Valley is still wearing Obama-colored glasses despite the fact that the guy is clearly an anti-capitalist, anti-business socialist, doesn’t mean you have to shove down our throats.

  3. Socialism doesn’t breed transparency. We’re talking about the mindset that invented speech codes, Political Correctness, hate crimes, etc. – all of which are designed to limit and control speech and thought.

    I don’t know what O’Reilly is smoking, but all he has had to do is watch what these people have been doing for the last six or so weeks to see that the change coming is not good.

    See “The Obama Rosetta Stone” for one example:

  4. There are a lot of CIOs within government agencies that are wise to what can be done and some have been able to get things done without spending “50 million” doing it. I agree that so much more needs to be done and that change is necessary. I applaud O’Rielly for speaking up and holding a GOV 2.0 Summit.