Colin Delany February 27, 2008

Newt Gingrich Moves to Silicon Valley, Misses the Online Point

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Newt Gingrich is moving to Silicon Valley! At least, part of his American Solutions organization is: the nonprofit is setting up a “technology headquarters” near the Stanford Linear Accelerator (e.politics is jealous — we want a death ray in our backyard, too). An American Solutions blogger touts the value of being so close to the perpetual nursery of new technology:

“We’ve established an office in Silicon Valley because we want to be in the middle of innovation and entrepreneurship and gain firsthand knowledge of the latest technological developments that will continue to change online politics. In short, we want to utilize new technologies that will help us communicate and organize more effectively — before it becomes a trend.”

Um, yeah. Newt, let’s you and me go grab a drink sometime and chat about the distributed nature of online communications.

Absolutely, if you’re looking to start up a new technology company, being in the center of Silicon Valley’s massive nexus of talent, experience and money can be vital. But if you’re working to “fundamentally transform government from the world that fails to the world that works,” well, the great thing about the ‘net is that you can be anywhere and still keep tabs on what’s going on. Ever heard of TechCrunch? Or Wired?

Being right in the middle of the technology churn might even be counterproductive rather than helpful, since you may be more likely to fall prey to the latest hype (note the press release’s touting of Newt’s September Second Life appearance) and miss the tools that are actually changing the way politics and government work. In short, you don’t have to have a Silicon Valley office to keep up with the latest ways technology can rework government — you need an internet connection, determination and a discerning mind.

Remember the TSA blog story? It’s just a tiny and recent example of how plenty of people all over the world — citizens, bureaucrats and politicians alike — are using tested and ready technologies to open up government to its citizens and to change the political process. I suspect that their steady, distributed and unheroic work will do more to “move the government into the 21st Century” than the grandiose dreams of Gingrich’s nonprofit, even if it does have a Menlo Park address.

cpd

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