Mudcat Café message #1386415 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #62901   Message #1386415
Posted By: Amos
23-Jan-05 - 05:11 PM
Thread Name: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
Subject: RE: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
NYTimes on Bush and Techno Legacy

Bush Didn't Invent the Internet, but Is He Good for Tech?

Published: January 23, 2005

GEORGE W. BUSH probably won't be remembered as "the high-tech
president." The strongholds of the biotech and infotech industries, on
the East and West Coasts, voted against him. If his State of the Union
address next week, his fourth, is like the previous three, it will say
next to nothing about the role of science or advanced technology in the
nation's economic and social future. The symbol of Al Gore's
relationship with gizmos was the early-model BlackBerry he wore on his
belt. The symbol of Mr. Bush's was his tumble from a Segway computerized
scooter in 2003.

Yet the Bush administration could end up being known for some technology
advances that occurred on its watch. I am speaking not only of purely
private developments - the renaissance of Internet-based businesses in
this age of Google - or of the heavy public spending for military and
surveillance systems, which is creating a vast new
antiterrorism-industrial complex.

Instead, as in many chapters of American technological history, some of
the most significant innovations have been made where public and private
efforts touch. In its first term, the Bush team made a few important
pro-technology choices. Over the next year it will signal whether it
intends to stand by them.

There is a long historical background to the administration's choices,
plus a variety of recent shifts and circumstances. The history stretches
to the early days of the republic, and the idea that
government-sponsored research in science and technology could bolster
private business growth. Progress in farming, led by the land-grant
universities, demonstrated this concept in the 19th century. Sputnik-era
science, culminating in the work that led to the Internet, did the same
in the 20th century.

In the last two decades, this old idea has been dressed up with concepts
like "network economics" and "increasing return to scale." The results
include the widely accepted understanding that the relationship of
public science and private business is more important than ever. An
environment in which the exchange of information is timely and
inexpensive, rather than slow and costly, can foster the growth of many

That sounds obvious. But it has political consequences. For one, it
helps explain why the United States has been so fertile an incubator for
tech companies, compared with most of Europe: government-sponsored
information has been much cheaper here. (The United States government
sells a CD set containing all weather readings taken in the last 50
years for $4,290; the German government data costs $1.5 million.)
American dynamism also creates an ever-changing set of winners and
losers. In fostering many new companies, the government often dislodges
a few old ones; dealing with the resulting protests is each
administration's problem.