Thinking Tech

Big goals missing from Obama tech policy

Big goals missing from Obama tech policy

Posting in Technology

What's missing, for me, are big goals. Mars, for instance. A true War Against Oil, for instance. Something that will grab hold of young techies' imaginations and deliver a result that will make our grandchildren go "wow."

Overall I have been pleased with the new President's technology platform.

His appointees seem to understand about open source, about open standards, and about the pernicious impact monopolies and gatekeepers can have on markets.

What's missing, for me, are big goals. Mars, for instance. A true War Against Oil, for instance. Something that will grab hold of young techies' imaginations and deliver a result that will make our grandchildren go "wow."

I remember taking my kids to see Tom Hanks in Apollo 13 a decade ago. The first sci-fi nostalgia film, I said then. It still is.  (That's the actual Apollo 13 crew above, from Space.Com.)

The lack of a Cold War may be one reason. It was the competition with the Soviet Union which animated the space program, not to mention the Internet. With the lack of a seemingly all-powerful enemy to focus on, American technology efforts have become diffuse, and short-term oriented.

That's a problem, it seems to me. For one thing we have big goals that must be accomplished, over the next generation. We have to save this planet from ourselves, for one thing. We have to accommodate several billion more people by 2050, increasingly mobile and demanding resources.

Today's young people also seem to be losing touch with or interest in the bleeding edge. My kids treat the Internet the way I treated TV. They don't care how it works. It's just a medium to them.

But what will they create with it?

To create anything meaningful, they need big dreams, impossible goals. My father's generation took us to the Moon, and mine helped build the Internet.

What will yours do? Someone needs to point the way.

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Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure