Joho the Blog[reboot] Government officials take it on the chin - Joho the Blog

[reboot] Government officials take it on the chin

I went to a fascinating breakout at Reboot at which two government guys came to talk about national policy. The government guys were culturally of the Reboot crowd (or so it seemed to me), and one of them came to his position straight out of a tech start-up. But the group of thirty people in the small, converted men’s room (!) met their openness with pent-up hostility. I was surprised at the anger. The gov’t guys ought to listen (which is what they were doing at this meeting), should not expect ideas for free, need to maybe do nothing, need to get the country over the digital divide, should give grants to small businesses, should stay clear of small businesses, don’t be afraid to lose control, build communities, participate in communities, stay out of communities… My untutored sense was that the Web community felt frustrated that this initiative was so late at getting started. As an American, I was actually impressed with the government folks’ openness and webbiness.

Afterwards, I talked with my friend Morten Kamper. He wasn’t at the session, but he said that there was concern that the government’s broadband committee is comprised of the telcos without sufficient citizen or webizen participation, and that Net neutrality is indeed an issue, as the telcos assume they can prefer some of their bits to others.

BTW, I asked the room if there was reluctance on the part of the government to be transparent, and, if so, where’s the Danish version of the Sunlight Foundation. The general answer I got was: There’s no official reluctance, but it’s going too slowly. And Ton Zijlstra said that in the Netherlands, the official policy is to be transparent but there are cultural resistances.

I also asked, at the beginning, if it was clear that the “broadband policy” they were talking about was actually committed to delivering an open, unfiltered, non-discriminatory Internet. The answer was “Yes,” with an implied, “Why would you even have to ask?” (And the answer to that implied question is: Because it’s not clear in America.)

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3 Responses to “[reboot] Government officials take it on the chin”

  1. Unfortunately I was not able to participate in this session at reboot.

    I find that the Danish government IS doing an OK job trying to secure the future digital infrastructure. However, we find (and I know a lot of people who agree) that the creation of the broadband committee (h√ɬłjhastighedskommission) lacks representation from the users and web community. The members of the committee are competent people and I am sure they will take into account the need for opinions from the “users” of the infrastructure.

  2. David, I agree with your impression of the reboot session. But after the first complaints about government openess, I felt that we actually got some valuable input and had a constructive dialogue.

    Morten, I will be happy to have your input to the broadband committee also. Let’s set up a meeting.

    Jakob (Head of the Secretariat, Danish Broadband Committee)

  3. […] wade through a lot of frustration and disbelief before we could get into real discussion, and they took it on the chin gracefully. More on that in a separate posting. The results of the session, transcription of […]

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