In a strong and curious post, Om Malik takes Mark Zuckerberg to task for his FWD.us push for immigration reform – while many of the titans of Silicon Valley have gaily signed on. The Zuck manifesto is here: http://www.fwd.us/immigration_reform.
It’s hard to argue with the initiative itself, and that is not quite what Om is doing. He’s raising the questions that in polite tech society one is not supposed to raise, about the fate of flyover country in post-industrial decline, and the naked power of those who control the new economy. How’s this for a contrarian claim: “Sorry Mark, but in the age of data, Facebook is Standard Oil and you are Rockefeller. ” And as Om notes, there are plenty who work for these new knowledge companies who do not get invited to the parties and given free iPhones. What about them?
It’s a plea for comprehensive engagement in the social-political implications of the knowledge revolution. But, of course, as we have noted, that is not how Washington works, where comprehensive and integrative and long-term get no votes. To the extent that the Valley’s efforts to win attention in Washington have had success, they have fit neatly into its approach (with the single, glaring exception of the SOPA revolt; and even that was a fit since Washington knows about take-downs, novel though the methods involved were). Whether the disruptive emerging industries will be prepared to engage with the policy community to address the vast impacts of their disruption poses an interesting question, at a time when neither one nor the other seems interested. If Om Malik is interested, we should all be.
Oh yes, here’s my take on the Washington/Valley divide.