My friend Marco called me up scared of what Internet visionary Don Tapscott had said on Tuesday’s Talk of the Nation. Tapscott foresees a day when technology makes government—such as spending—directly accessible to the masses.
“Do you realize,” Marco said, “that all this Government 2.0 stuff, where just anyone could see where the money’s going and stuff like that, could make business really difficult for me?”
In the last few months, Marco’s business has grown like a bio-engineered fly. He no longer makes up false names for use by spammers, he has a crew of six teenagers doing that. Instead, he’s become a consultant for two companies he won’t name that have headquarters in Dubai and Sicily. I understand they’re into Indian casinos and gray- and black-market prescription drugs.
“Here, let me read this to you,” I said to Marco. I had a blog post by Tom Davenport, the big-time metrics maven, where he had just pooh-poohed Tapscott’s vision.
Marco’s busy these days, so I skipped over the first few paragraphs to the first sign of substance: “Davenport writes, ‘There may be a few hitches in this miraculous transformation.'”
I could tell Marco was already impatient. “‘A few hitches’!?” he scoffed. “Everything has hitches. The World Wide Web has plenty of hitches. I thought this guy had reasons it won’t happen. Come on, there must be more.”
I scanned down the long page. “OK, here,” I said, “he wonders how the federal government is capable of it. They can’t do much right.”
“They do some things right—stuff no one wants to hear about. It’s boring,” he said.
I could only imagine what Marco had seen lately. “OK, down a little farther,” I said, “he writes that these techno-visions are dangerous. ‘It might lead to disenchantment with the technology when it doesn’t lead to the promised result.'”
Marco was silent for a second. “What??” said Marco. “You read this guy? If he thought for two seconds he’d realize that means Microsoft is dangerous. When do they ever release anything that doesn’t disappoint just about everyone?”
“I gotta go,” said Marco. “I’ve had enough of Pundit 0.2. — That’s 1.0 minus the wind factor. Bye.”