As Genachowski Exits, Looking Forward Not Back.
As Genachowski Exits, Looking Forward Not Back.
As Genachowski Exits, Looking Forward Not Back.

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    It is extremely easy to let the disappointment and bitterness over
    the high hopes I (and others) had back when Genachowski started in 2009 color
    his sins (whether of commission or omission) blacker than they should be. By
    the same token, it is easy to allow the lowered expectations we all had after
    2010 to make his accomplishments seem better than they where. But far more
    important than any attempt to summarize Genachowski’s putative legacy in a few
    paragraphs is determining who will succeed him. Anyone interested in reflecting
    on the last 4 years can see Public Knowledge’s official statement here. But
    for us here at PK, it’s time to look forward.

    Certainly, as Gigi and many others have said, we want to see
    someone who will be a champion of the public interest. We need someone willing
    to stand up to powerful incumbents when they try to block new competitors or
    cheat consumers. We need someone who will stand up to hostile House Republicans
    who see no value in the public airwaves but to sell them to the highest bidder.
     But I will add one particular plea to
    the President, as he considers this next nomination:

    Mr. President, please send us no more scholars. Send us no
    visionary to lead us into the promised land of gigabit broadband, nor an
    ideologue wedded to a philosophy. Send us no seekers of grand bargains or
    painful compromises. Instead, send us a practical problem solver, someone who
    likes to get their hands dirty.

    Even more so than in 2009, we stand at a peculiar juncture in the
    evolution of our national communications infrastructure. After years of
    anticipating convergence, it is upon us. Every aspect of our communications
    infrastructure — wireless, wireline, broadcasting, cable — is undergoing
    dramatic upheaval. There are at once tremendous opportunities for a rebirth of
    independent media and renewed competition, or a collapse into consolidation and
    control. We may see the power of a free Internet unleashed for all, or we may
    see it domesticated for the benefit of the privileged few.

    We are at a delicate point in what Tim Wu in his 2010 book The Master Switch called
    “The Cycle,” the point where potentially open and disruptive communications
    technology reach a new equilibrium and begin to become closed and tame, serving
    a new elite as the previous structure served the old. Stopping that Cycle takes
    more than just vision (though vision is certainly required). It takes someone
    who loves the details with wonkish delight, but who can step back enough from
    them to stay focused on the bigger picture. It takes someone with a guiding
    philosophy that inform decisionmaking rather than an ideology that governs
    decisionmaking. Someone willing to make the hard call and piss people off, but
    mindful that the person who always does what he or she thinks is right
    regardless of cost eventually runs up a heck of a tab. Someone who captures the
    wisdom of Ecclesiastes 7:16-17: “Do not be too righteous, nor too wise —
    wherefore would you destroy yourself? Be not too wicked, nor too foolish —
    wherefore would you die before your time?”

    In 2009
    we wanted hope and change, in 2013 we need grit and courage.