From Geek to Wonk

Thomas Gideon has been a programmer for over ten years. He has created a podcast for the last five that examines public policy issues that impact the tech sector -- in particular copyright and privacy. Learning about public policy is not all that different from learning about technologies, he says -- both are complex and multifaceted systems. Furthermore, if technologists want sensible policies and regulations for the sector, they need to inform themselves about the current structure in order to enact change.

In his latest podcast, available here, Gideon discusses his own experience with learning about policy. He talks about the frequently rallied battle cry of technologists to abolish all regulation in the space and that policymakers shouldn’t legislate on issues they don’t understand. His argument? There is also value in the existing structures, and we need to understand them better before we try to scrap everything and start fresh. And the policymakers will legislate whether they understand or not.

Gideon’s solution is for technologists to take the first step in bridging the gap of understanding. We need to act on multiple fronts, he says. For every agitator that brings issues of importance to the attention of policymakers, there needs to be at least one counterpart committed to finding ways to connect these two forces and steer policy changes that affect us on a day to day level. We here at Engine aim to be one such conduit by aiming to give you, as an entrepreneur or founder or investor, a voice in these debates.

So take a listen to Gideon’s comments, and let us know: what issues are you facing as an entrepreneur or as a developer? What solutions have you found that you would like to communicate to people in positions of power who can effect change on those issues?