Whatever else he is (secret Muslim, socialist, hater of America and Real Americans), Obama is arguably the first, and certainly the second (after Carter) technocrat President. Technocrats tend to appoint other technocrats to technology positions, instead of making those spots political rewards for clueless insiders. Nowhere is that more obvious than the FCC, which is now run by an asskicker named Julius Genachowski. He replaced a Clinton-appointed and Bush-promoted mediocrity, Michael Powell (son of Colin).
It’s too early to tell whether Genachowski’s efforts will turn into real change, but he’s making a lot of the right noises. Here’s a love letter from a normally skeptical tech site, written a few months back:
The Genachowski-led FCC has been relentless in its effort to disrupt the status quo. In office for six months, Genachowski and team are drafting a national broadband plan; working on net neutrality rules; fingering companies like Google, Apple, and Verizon; dealing with spectrum reallocation; handling the nuts-and-bolts of white space device deployment; threatening to extend neutrality rules to wireless networks; and considering the transition from traditional circuit-switched phone networks to a full-IP communications network. Now, we can add “shaking up the cable industry” to the list.
So Genachowski doesn’t seem to be a radical, but he does appear to be both relentless and ambitious in his quest to see these ideas carried through to their maximum potential for disruptive innovation. And he’s not above irritating just about every major incumbent with a network to do it.
This is a long-winded way of saying that everyone ought to visit the latest FCC effort, broadband.gov, and test your broadband connection. The FCC is collecting data about Internet speed across the country to find out where broadband stimulus money can best be spent. If that site gets a ton of hits, not only will it collect good data, but the FCC will have more proof that the public is watching and gives a shit.