Friday, May 26, 2006

Getting the point across

Susan Crawford is lamenting the geek community's lack of communication skills when it comes to connecting with Jo Public.

"Many geeks, policy wonks, and policy geeks (the geeks who care about policy and wish they could be wonks) just aren't capable of persuading non-geek/non-wonks that the details of the issues they care about are important. If you took your average cyber-utopian and plunked him down in a bar in Milwaukee and told him to get everyone excited about net neutrality, he'd be lucky to get out of there unscathed. (Possible reality show?)"

This fact of geek life is a frustrating one. You can count up all the lies told by the telcos, you can tick off all the world-changing benefits of the internet, you can be amazed by the serendipity of online life, but you cannot convince the guy in the middle seat flying with you from Atlanta to Chicago that his elected representative is going the wrong way when it comes to giving telcos control over the internet...

She's right. It's a big problem and one of the reasons I started on the book - as John puts it, we've got to get these kinds of ideas into the bloodstream of society. It's also one of the reasons I've just spent a frustrating week trying to polish off Chapter 5 on risk, uncertainty and large scale government information systems (like ID cards). I've done dozens if not hundreds of posts here about these things and should be able to nail it without even thinking by now but it just hasn't been coming out right or at least in a way that Ms/Mr Public would find engaging. I had a sleepless night last night when I finally thought I had grasped the right shape and form but it was just beyond reach again today. Time to just write what comes and then knock it into shape with the help of critical readers.

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