“Modernizers” vs. “Preservationists”: Another Cut at the Optimist vs. Pessimist Divide

by on October 8, 2010 · 60 comments

As I continue to do research for what will become a chapter-length version of my old essay, “Are You An Internet Optimist or Pessimist? The Great Debate over Technology’s Impact on Society,” I am reading or re-reading some old books that have touched upon these debates through the years.  Earlier this week, after an event over at ITIF, my friend Rob Atkinson reminded me that he had discussed some of these issues in his 2004 book, The Past and Future of America’s Economy.  Specifically, in Chapter 6, “The New Economy and Its Discontents,” Rob showed how “American history is rife with resistance to change,” as he recounts some of the heated battles over previous industrial / technological revolutions. I really loved this bit on page 201:

This conflict between stability and progress, security and prosperity, dynamism and stasis, has led to the creation of a major political fault line in American politics. On one side are those who welcome the future and look at the New Economy as largely positive. On the other are those who resist change and see only the risks of new technologies and the New Economy.  As a result, a political divide is emerging between preservationists who want to hold onto the past and modernizers who recognize that new times require new means.

I like those “Preservationists” vs. “Modernizers” descriptors, and I like the fact that Rob also uses the “dynamism and stasis” paradigm, which he borrowed from Virginia Postrel, who contrasted those conflicting worldviews in her 1998 book, The Future and Its Enemies.  As I noted in my essay about “Two Schools of Internet Pessimism,” I think that “dynamist vs. stasis” model — more than anything else I’ve read before or since — best explains the chasm that separates competing schools of thinking about the Internet’s impact on culture, economy, and society.

But Rob’s “preservationists” label is also apt. It correctly identifies the fundamental conservatism that lies at the heart of the pessimistic attitude and the “stasis” mentality.  Many Net skeptics just can’t seem to let go of the past. They are too invested in it or wedded to something about it.  They want to imagine that some earlier time was more unique and valuable than the unfolding present or unpredictable future.  From their perspective, evolutionary dynamism is undesirable precisely because we can’t preserve some of the things which they feel made that previous era great. That something could be a specific form of culture, a particular set of institutions, or any number of other things.  The key point is: The don’t like the fact the technology is fundamentally disruptive and that is dislodges old norms and institutions. What is familiar is more comforting than that which is unknown or uncertain.  That’s the security blanket that the stasis / preservationist mentality provides.

Dynamism, by contrast, requires ongoing leaps of faith since we must continuously embrace, or at least accept, the fundamental uncertainty of social / technological change.  I love the scene at the end of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” [clip below] where Indy has to make the “leap of faith” and step out onto a walkway that doesn’t appear to be there at first. It’s a useful way of thinking about how we must sometimes approach life in the Digital Age.  Who knows what lies around the cyber-corner?  Answer: nobody.  As I’ve pointed out before, what pessimists of all varieties seem to fail to appreciate is that markets are evolutionary and dynamic, and when those markets are built upon code, the pace and nature of change becomes unrelenting and utterly unpredictable. We humans have never seen an industrial or technological revolution that has unfolded at the breakneck pace of the Digital Revolution.  And as I noted in this debate with Zittrain, nothing—absolutely nothing—that was sitting on our desks in 1995 is still there today (in terms of digital hardware / software, I mean) and I doubt that much of what was on our desk in 2005 is still there either.  And our online communities have seen similar revolutions during that time. It’s easy to forget that most of us had never read or used a blog 10 years ago. Or that even just five years ago, few of us had ever heard of Facebook or other social networking sites. And Twitter, Android, and the iPhone were still a ways off.

It’s just amazing how fast disruptive innovation unfolds on the digital frontier.  Again, no one knows what lies around the corner next.  But if we were to adopt the “preservationist” mentality, we might never find out. We have to continue to be willing to take little leaps of faith each day.  It’s vital that we embrace evolutionary dynamism and leave a broad sphere for continued experimentation by individuals and organizations alike because freedom broadly construed is valuable in its own right—even if not all of the outcomes are optimal.  As Clay Shirky rightly noted in his 2008 book, Here Comes Everybody:

This does not mean there will be no difficulties associated with our new capabilities—the defenders of freedom have long noted that free societies have problems peculiar to them. Instead, it assumes that the value of freedom outweighs the problems, not based on calculation of net value but because freedom is the right thing to want for society.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Sigh … it's almost like you're afraid to write something non-hackish. I suppose it's the free market at work – there's basically no market for considerate thoughtful material, so to the extent you write that, you're less competitive against the other players who are vying to write polemics which please businesspeople. Well, I probably shouldn't be making this comment – but the situation is such a pity.

  • http://www.techliberation.com Adam Thierer

    Seth.. Will you ever again have a substantive comment or should we just expect these insulting, broken-record responses from you each time? You're a smart guy; push back with something of substance or quit wasting your time here. Seriously, if you regard me as such a lost cause, I don't understand why you even bother reading my columns and posting the same comment to them ad nauseum.

    Yes, I know you hate libertarianism. And, yes, I also know you don't like the fact that I lean more to the Net optimist side of the spectrum. But how about articulating some reasons why you think I am wrong? I can think of several good come-backs to what I posted above and before on this topic, but you have suggested none of them. Just repeated personal attacks.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Regarding ” … , if you regard me as such a lost cause, …”, let me try to explain it as the difference between “can't do better” and “can do better, but isn't trying”. You wrote something quite thoughtful before, without all the red-meat ranting, recognizing difficulties, etc. So I've been reading your columns hoping for similar quality again, and finding the same old stuff. Calling that “personal attacks” might be technically accurate, but I think it misses some crucial nuance. Look, I take the stock blather as a given – I've been on the Net for decades, you literally do it for a living. There's no point in going around it, especially in comments. Maybe there's no point in analyzing the meta-issues either, but it was just so disappointing, which is what motivated me to note that.

    Oh, how can you say connecting to free-market influences is not “something of substance”? 1/2 :-)

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    In a nutshell – “Not all change is good change; the optimists need to be mature enough to understand and address the occasional downsides of digital life without dismissing the critics.”

  • Pingback: Modernizers, Preservationists and Innovation « Innovation Leadership Network

  • Brett Glass

    Guys…. Guys…. Adam, I often disagree vigorously with Seth, but in this case he has a point.

    The key to PFF's success, in its early days, that it favored not just “free” markets but healthy ones. A healthy market requires a great measure of freedom, but not anarchy (which — as commentators across the political spectrum from Adam Smith to Karl Marx have noted throughout recorded history — will inevitably lead to their destruction). Walking that line was a tricky balancing act, and by doing so PFF constantly risked alienating large corporations which wanted to dominate their markets as well as smaller entities (and political interventionists) who favored extensive and possibly excessive regulation. But it did it well for awhile. When I was fortunate enough to speak at PFF's annual retreat, I think I caught it during its heyday.

    PFF fell apart when it lapsed from advocacy of healthy markets to, essentially, market anarchism (which goes beyond libertarianism, by the way; libertarians do recognize that society must have rules). At this point, it lost its unique, insightful, enlightened niche. There are plenty of think tanks and lobbying groups already out there — Heritage, ALEC, etc. — which are essentially owned and operated by very large businesses that have conquered and destroyed healthy markets. They wish to see no rules of fair play, so that they can preserve their dominance. We saw this when PFF took on staff from such groups as The Discovery Institute (which goes so far as to deny basic science — and make up faux science such as “intelligent design” — to please its corporate and political masters). The “market” for such groups is saturated, though, and so when PFF moved out of its unique niche into that “commodity market” it could no longer attract enough funding to sustain itself.

    I think that there's a lesson here. In today's polarized political environment, taking an enlightened, moderate stance rather than an extreme one is risky. But not only is it the right thing to do — it may be the only way to survive when there's no more room at the extremes.

  • http://www.techliberation.com Adam Thierer

    As usual, Brett, you just make sh*t up as you go along. If PFF was about “market anarchism” that will sure come as a shock to all those libertarians who gave us grief for our views on IP rights, or FTC enforcement, or our DACA project (which left room for antitrust-like enforcement at the FCC). But I wouldn't suspect you'd bother to mention any of that. Why don't you just call me a stooge of Google like you do everyone else you disagree with on Twitter? I remember when you suggested such a thing two years ago when we announced we took on a summer Google Fellow saying that it would somehow corrupt us. (Seriously, do you realize that everyone in Washington across the political spectrum makes jokes about your Twitter insanity? About the only thing I've ever agreed with Harold Feld of Ben Scott about is that you are certifiably insane.)

    By the way, I hold no brief for Heritage or other groups you criticize above, but again, you should get your facts straight when you make conspiratorial accusations of organizations being “essentially owned and operated by very large businesses.” Heritage gets far less than 10% of its funding from corporations (I think I last heard it was under 5%). Almost all their support comes from small-dollar donors and conservative foundations. But hey, again, don't let facts get in your way of one of your asinine rants.

    Finally, what part of this essay in any way, shape, or form had anything to do with “market anarchism” or “extremism”? Seriously, this was a piece about how different people view technological change and I'm using a frame of reference developed by a guy who used to work at the Progressive Policy Institute, not exactly an anarchist institution.

    Grow up, Brett.

  • Brett Glass

    Adam, your response to me proves both Seth's points and mine. When you can only respond to insightful criticism with abuse and insults, you're lost — and so is any organization where you have a leadership position.

    Your humorless response to my postings on Twitter likewise does not bode well. My tweets are intended to be — by turns — eclectic, insightful, humorous, and geeky. Yes, there's some playful and creative “insanity” in there. (You may note that I trade tweets with several of the novelty musicians who appear on The Dr. Demento Show; I've played on several tracks which have been featured on that show.) And, yes, in some of my tweets I take digs at the Washington, DC lobbying establishment and its complete ethical bankruptcy. And for good reason: many of the lobbyists at whom I take the occasional poke are prodding government to destroy my hard working, productive technology business. If you were a true libertarian, you'd applaud me for tweaking them. But alas, you seem instead have lapsed into knee jerk corporate “conservatism” (which is neither libertarianism nor true conservatism). Unfortunately, when you dragged PFF with you in this direction, it was the last straw for the group. It lost all of its cred very quickly.

    Yes, the Google fellowships did turn out to be not only an ethical lapse but one of several clear signs that PFF was trying to cater to corporate interests. (Seth notes, correctly, that you were “vying to write polemics which please businesspeople.) The loss of insightful intellectuals such as Barbara Esbin, and the hiring of staff from unabashedly ethics-free lobbying outfits such as Heritage and Discovery, were further signs of ethical and intellectual decay.

    It's all a shame. I almost joined PFF and gave it a substantial amount of money. But when I began to see conflicts of interest, a loss of intellectual independence, and signs that it was angling to become just another “me too” part of the Washington corporate lobbying establishment, I demurred. And, I'll bet, so did a lot of other folks, which is why PFF ultimately had to close its doors.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Adam, for someone who was so put out by my you-can-do-better type comments, you sure seem to freely dish out personal attacks. Why is it any more sane to write “Free Press, by contrast, might best be thought of as cyber-Stalinists.” than to talk of being a Google stooge? They sound similar to me. Look, I don't share Brett's politics, but it often seems to me that there's some twisted sort of self-justification which goes on, by casting the outsider as bad so the insiders can think they're reasonable in comparison. Consider “They want all-encompassing government control of almost every layer of the Net, the mediasphere, journalism, … you name it.” Isn't that very much “make conspiratorial accusations of organizations”. Why couldn't someone similarly say “Adam Thierer is certifiably insane – he writes Free Press is a cyber-Stalinist which wants to Rule The World”?

    This not to necessarily endorse Free Press. But vituperative rhetoric is quite common (and note, sigh, to address an obvious reply, I hardly claim to never do it myself). Which makes it all the more ironic that my original point was hoping I'd see more articles that delved issues from an intellectually serious viewpoint, and ruefulness that it was apparently heavily discouraged by the pundit business model.

  • Brett Glass

    Seth, the interesting thing here — or so I think — is that inside-the-Beltway lobbyists consider outsiders who call them on their lack of ethics to be more of a threat than one another! My theory is that this is because they generate work for one another and therefore have a sort of “Wolf and Sheepdog” relationship (see the old Chuck Jones cartoons). When their opponents on an issue are active, they can say to clients, “Give us more money to counter them.” So, their opponents are, in a way, helping them. The actual issues aren't the primary concern; money is.

    PFF does not appear to have originally been part of this establishment. When I first encountered the group, it seemed to stand firmly on principle. But it appears to have been seduced into the lobbying establishment at the end due to a desperate need for funding. As I've mentioned above, some of the personnel changes we saw in PFF's last days were unmistakable signs of such a shift.

    In his message above, Adam claims that PFF's stance on intellectual property — i.e. that it should be protected — was proof that it wasn't courting or being influenced by Google. But that stance was adopted earlier, when PFF still hewed to its principles. Google arrived rather late in the game, when PFF was already beginning to founder. If PFF had survived — and especially if its survival hinged on substantial funding from Google — it might well have “turned the ship” and gradually reversed its stance on IP, realigning itself to suit Google's corporate agenda. Happens all the time in DC. And the funding that brought about this change might not be disclosed. DC lobbying groups such as Free Press and Heritage take advantage of the fact that they're not required to reveal all of their funding sources (as they should be!) to hide corporate funding and “in kind” contributions.

    In any case, I'm happy to be an outsider, because it means that I can continue to be ethical and motivated by principle. I am fighting not just for my own small business and businesses like mine (which have the right to exist and to thrive without crippling regulation) but for my employees' jobs, for my community (to which I bring those jobs), and for my users (to whom I bring access to the Internet). Bumping heads with the amoral DC lobbying establishment just means that I'm doing it right. If I had no conflicts with them, it would either mean that I was ineffective or that I wasn't standing on principle. The fact that they're claiming I'm “insane” simply means that I'm being heard and hitting home.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Here's a good example of “insane” from Twitter.

    Harold Feld said he wanted to debate Chris Yoo about media markets (whether they're local or national.) I offered to host, and Harold observed that DC is a funny place. Brett's response:

    brettglass Brett Glass
    And not one an ISP. Not cool; pathetic. Stop meddling RT @iPolicy @haroldfeld Cool. Two lawyers debating economics, moderated by an engineer — I love Washington. :)
    3 Oct.

    In Brett's world, only Brett is entitled to discuss tech policy of any kind; everyone else is a “soulless DC lobbyist” who should simply organize panel discussions for Brett and shut up.

    He does provide a lot of entertainment, so there is that.

  • Brett Glass

    Thank you, Richard! You're reinforcing my point. As a true inside-the-Beltway DC lobbyist, you'd like to discredit anyone who comes from the real world, bearing actual facts and experience.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    *That's* your example? That's the sort of stuff which really makes me think the process at work here is insecure-insider group affirmation. How many, many, times have you yourself written material that, paraphrased, the lawyers and lobbyists should stay out and leave network matters to engineers (like yourself …). Here, I just grabbed one “His viewpoint seems grounded in the philosopher-king’s desire to enclose the hoi polloi in systems which will direct their simple minds toward noble pursuits, and he believes end-to-end is one of them. Consequently, he ignored expert advice and followed up this conference with additional books on threats to the Internet that ignored the major ones, such as traffic inequality, limits to scalability, and malicious code.”. Why couldn't someone as well say “In [Richard's] world, only Richard is allowed to discuss network management; everyone else is a wanna-be philosopher-king, who should simply ask Richard for expert advice.”

    I keep telling Brett what he needs is to get a sponsor, like you did with ITIF.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    The comment you quoted points to the errors in your pal Larry Lessig's analysis of the Internet. That's a whole different animal than Brett saying lawyers aren't entitled to discuss media markets without ISP supervision. I've never declared lawyers unworthy of taking part in the debate; in fact, I stress the fact that tech policy should be developed by engineers, economists, and lawyers in concert.

    Brett thinks tech policy – and media policy in the example given – is all about him. That may not be certifiable, but it's certainly narcissistic. But according to Brett, I'm an inside the Beltway soulless amoral lobbyist for Google, so I'm not entitled to an opinion.

    That's all very high-and-mighty for a guy who's basically a slum lord playing at the ISP business in his spare time..

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    What facts and experience do boutique ISPs from the back of beyond have about media markets, O Pure One? Face it, your knee-jerk response is neither factual nor experienced, it's just tired and lame.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Richard, how many comments should I quote from you sneering at the expertise of various lawyers? Here's a good one: “I think we can all more or less agree that it's unfortunate to have a legal academic with no particular grounding in technology or business advising the president on tech and innovation policy. … I could fill a book with things Crawford has said about the Internet that simply are not true.”. I know, you could claim this is again about a particular lawyer. But after a while, it just seems to me to be trying to draw the line fine enough so that you're “in”, while Brett is “out”.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    You're really grasping at straws, Seth. The president shouldn't have hired a loopy idealist to serve as science, technology, and innovation policy advisor. That mistake has been corrected, of course. I have no problem with the incumbent, even though he happens to be a law professor, because he's actually studied the issues and come to some sensible positions. Do you know who holds that portfolio now?

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    I think the distinction between the preservationists and the futurists is key. It really comes down to one mind set that opposes new systems until all possible defects can be identified and suppressed in advance vs. a mindset that wants to ship the beta version of the future right now and patch the bugs as they come up.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    You're ducking the point. If Brett says something nice about a lawyer, does he change status to being accounted sane?

  • Brett Glass

    Richard, in the message above you again attempt to discredit me – with more false statements.

    Won't work.

    The simple fact is that corporate lobbyists and lawyers are unqualified and unsuited to make engineering or management decisions for my business or policy for this country.

  • Brett Glass

    More insulting, denigrating language. Not only are lobbyists a key reason this country is so much on the wrong track — they're also in denial about it.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    No.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Since when are you opposed to “insulting, denigrating language” Brett? That's pretty much all you've got. Looks like you can dish it out but you can't take it, delicate flower.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    How many W2 employees does Lariat have, Brett? My guess is 0.

  • Brett Glass

    Richard, that advisor was more than a “loopy idealist.” Susan Crawford was handpicked for the post by Google – one of Obama’s largest campaign contributors. Google had given vital support to her career and to a nonprofit organization which she had founded and with which she was identified. Crawford was not fully engrossed in the DC lobbying establishment, but Google knew that she was greatly indebted to it and would do Google’s bidding within the White House. And she did; she got language that Google wanted into the ARRA and into the FCC’s “network neutrality” NPRM.

    She was later replaced by a Google lobbyist, who was hired into the White House despite the President’s pledge not to make such hires. This lobbyist, Andrew McLaughlin, owned large amounts of Google stock and had more experience lobbying inside the Beltway, and thus was a more reliable pick for Google in the long term. This was confirmed when White House e-mails demonstrated that McLaughlin was coordinating strategy with Google and with lobbyists from groups paid and supported by Google.

    In short, both appointments demonstrate the corruption engendered by the influence of corporate money and by today’s DC lobbying establishment.

  • Brett Glass

    Six, Richard. And more if we continue to expand.

  • Brett Glass

    You're right on the money, Seth. Richard used to assert regularly that engineering decisions should be left to engineers. But that was before he was absorbed into the corrupt DC lobbying establishment. It is now in his interest to “go along to get along,” even if bad policy is made. And that means attempting to discredit anyone from outside the Beltway who has useful knowledge or experience and wants to be heard.

    Like Jones' “Wolf and Sheepdog,” DC lobbyists feel that they have more common cause with their fellow lobbyists on the other side of the issue than they do with anyone outside the Beltway, and so they close ranks against those of us from the real world who attempt to point out that emperors have no clothes. This is one of the corrosive, corrupting influences that are wrecking our democracy and irreparably harming our entire country. The rise of the Tea Party – though it has in some cases been misdirected because it has trusted people from this same “insider” power structure to guide it – is a reaction to this.

  • Brett Glass

    Again, a lie – as anyone who has read my writings is well aware.

  • Brett Glass

    Richard, that advisor was more than a “loopy idealist.” Susan Crawford was handpicked for the post by Google – one of Obama’s largest campaign contributors. Google had given vital support to her career and to a nonprofit organization which she had founded and with which she was identified. Crawford was not fully engrossed in the DC lobbying establishment, but Google knew that she was greatly indebted to it and would do Google’s bidding within the White House. And she did; she got language that Google wanted into the ARRA and into the FCC’s “network neutrality” NPRM.

    She was later replaced by a Google lobbyist, who was hired into the White House despite the President’s pledge not to make such hires. (I guess if you give enough money to a politician, you can persuade him to take the political risk of blatantly breaking his word.) This lobbyist, Andrew McLaughlin, owned (and still does own) large amounts of Google stock and had more experience lobbying inside the Beltway, and thus was a more reliable pick for Google in the long term. This was confirmed when White House e-mails demonstrated that McLaughlin was coordinating strategy with Google and with lobbyists from groups paid and supported by Google.

    In short, both appointments demonstrate the corruption engendered by the influence of corporate money and by today’s DC lobbying establishment.

  • Brett Glass

    Funny: All of my other comments were posted in exactly the same way and got through. I’ll try again:

    Richard, that advisor was more than a “loopy idealist.” Susan Crawford was handpicked for the post by Google – one of Obama’s largest campaign contributors. Google had given vital support to her career and to a nonprofit organization which she had founded and with which she was identified. Crawford was not fully engrossed in the DC lobbying establishment, but Google knew that she was greatly indebted to it and would do Google’s bidding within the White House. And she did; she got language that Google wanted into the ARRA and into the FCC’s “network neutrality” NPRM. These actions simply leave no doubt that she was pulling for Google.

    Crawford’s assignment was supposed to last for no more than a year, and so she was later replaced by a Google lobbyist, who was hired into the White House despite the President’s pledge not to make such hires. (Apparently, if you contribute enough money, you can persuade a politician to brazenly break his promises.) This lobbyist, Andrew McLaughlin, owned large amounts of Google stock and had more experience lobbying inside the Beltway, and thus was a more reliable pick for Google in the long term. This was confirmed when White House e-mails demonstrated that McLaughlin was coordinating strategy with Google and with lobbyists from groups paid and supported by Google.

    In short, both appointments demonstrate the corruption engendered by the influence of corporate money and by today’s DC lobbying establishment.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Anyone who's read this comment thread knows I'm right.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Right.

  • Brett Glass

    You obviously have a greater opinion of your own credibility than the rest of us.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    It's simply a matter of possessing good reading comprehension skills, Brett. You run around the Internet in your ample free time complaining about “the amoral DC lobbying establishment” and then you whine about the people you lump into this category using “insulting denigrating language” against you. Anyone with a room temperature IQ or better can see your utter lack of self-awareness. If you want people to be nice to you, you should start by treating others with some modicum of respect.

    If you're not willing to do that, you should stop demanding a place on the dias when tech policy is discussed in DC.

  • Brett Glass

    Richard, again you're proving my points wonderfully. Thank you.

  • Brett Glass

    Interesting. Adam has twice deleted a reply, which I posted here, criticizing Google's lobbying activities and noting Susan Crawford's ties to Google. He hasn't deleted any other messages in that thread, but felt the need to censor that one. Why, I wonder?

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    The blatant attention-seeking never stops, does it Brett? You don't know if your comment disappeared because Disqus ate it or for any other reason. You don't even know if Adam has administrator privilege on this blog.

    But the funniest thing is your apparent belief that Crawford is a Google shill. People familiar with her thinking and her history are aware of the fact that her advocacy predates Google's interest in policy, and has been very consistent. I don't agree with much of what Crawford thinks, but it's idiotic to claim that she's not sincere.

    The “certifiable” claim is getter closer to “medically-proven fact” status.

  • http://www.techliberation.com Adam Thierer

    Brett.. I haven't delayed or blocked anything you've ever said here. I want to leave every word of your insane ramblings and unsubstantiated accusations up here so that others can see how completely out of touch with reality you are. The idea that I carry water for Susan Crawford or Google is just terrific comedy. Anyone who's followed my work over the past twenty years knows where I stands on the issues, and it most certainly is not with Susan, and I have been at odds with Google over roughly 75% of their stated public policy positions, especially Net neutrality regulation.

    For God's sake, grow up Brett. What do you persist with these silly fantasies and conspiratorial accusations? Do you realize how bad this makes you look? Just let it go.

  • Brett Glass

    Adam, everything I'm saying is supported by the facts. Your shift toward currying favor with Google (perhaps to procure them as a contributor to PFF?) was demonstrated by your sudden, dramatic accusations that anyone who criticized Google was “Google-phobic.” I was the target of some of these. In any event, I hope you recognize that slinging mud at me when I point out that the Emperor isn't wearing anything doesn't reflect badly on me at all. It does, however, reflect badly on inside-the-Beltway think-tankers and lobbyists who do it.

  • Brett Glass

    “Medically proven?” Why thank you, Dr. Bennett, for your diagnosis. Not.

    I also hope you realize that I'm not attention-seeking here. I'm very goal-oriented. In this case, by drawing you out, I've proven my point that DC lobbyists are unprincipled and will attempt to discredit anyone from outside their little establishment. QED.

  • Brett Glass

    Oh, and by the way: I tried to post the same message again, and again it was deleted after a few minutes. In the meantime, other comments I've posted before and after it have stayed. Pure coincidence?

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Brett, you're self-discrediting. All I've ever done for you is provide you with a platform in DC, and your reaction has simply been to crap on the floor of your hosts. You've worn out your own welcome.

  • Brett Glass

    Actually, I've always been very gracious to my hosts at various policy events. A few of them have fallen out with me for one reason or another or even turned on me (PFF, for example, underwent some mercurial shifts and then Adam, who seemed friendly when we last met in person, began to attack me online). But most would have me again.

    Nowadays I am busy building my business and have been seeking out fewer speaking engagements. (Frankly, there is very little that can be done in the world of telecomm policy. Congress is hamstrung, and will be more so after the elections. The FCC seems to be locked into a predetermined course, ill advised though it may be, and it will take 2 to 4 years before it is finally turned back by the courts.) I still maintain, though, that no industry's future should be discussed in absentia, and that the DC lobbying establishment is absolutely the last group that should be making policy.

    For the nonce, I'll do most of my advocacy online while working hard at my business. When there's another juncture where I can make a difference by attending live policy events, I'll devote more time and money to doing so. And you won't stop me, Richard. People will recognize that, having actual knowledge and experience in the field, I have a lot more to contribute than a DC lobbyist or lawyer.

  • Ryan Radia

    Brett…DISQUS flagged your comments as spam. I've just gone in and manually approved them, so they should now appear on this page. (Anytime you post a comment here and it subsequently disappears, chances are it's because DISQUS has automatically flagged it. For some reason DISQUS doesn't remove comments flagged as spam until after they're posted.)

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Brett, you must be a congenital liar. You tried to get on the panel I did Oct. 1st. Shall I post your e-mail here just to prove how totally full of shit you are?

  • Ryan Radia

    In the cyber-libertarian world many of us here on TLF envision, lobbyists would have practically no power or influence. We think government should be involved in very few aspects of tech/telecom policy. Besides defining and enforcing property rights, there aren't many decisions impacting technology we think should be made by politicians and bureaucrats in DC.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    You're speculating about Crawford and adding outright fabrications on top of your speculations. I know the people who were involved in talking Craword into taking the job at the NEC, and the process didn't work in any way close to what you imagine. It's also not the case that she was replaced by McLaughlin; Phil Weiser from Silicon Flatirons was her replacement. Phil co-authored the ITIF essay “A Third Way on Net Neutrality,” hardly a pro-Google piece. This irresponsible mud slinging and wild speculation is your trademark, and it's looking like your animus toward policy people is simple envy.

  • Brett Glass

    Post my e-mail if you will, Richard; it will show that you are the one who are full of, er, excrement. I wasn't going to volunteer to be on the panel myself; I already had a commitment for the 1st. Rather, I was going to recommend an ISP who was closer to DC as a speaker. As it turned out, the event had not a single ISP speaking, despite being billed as a discussion of Internet policy. It thus was not a legitimate forum.

  • Brett Glass

    Ryan, thank you for clearing that up. Those comments appeared and then disappeared a few minutes later, as if a human had seen them and decided to censor them. I stand corrected.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Go ahead and post it yourself.

    The forum in question concerned an argument between Free Press and AT&T, an ISP. AT&T participated, Free Press demurred.

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