In addition to my day job, trying to build FamilyLink.com into a technology company that helps families connect online, I’m spending more and more time studying politics, history, and economics. (My college major was originally political science, until I switched to Russian.)
I search in the Congressional Record often and watch CSPAN regularly. I’ve purchased about 30 books (mostly on my Kindle) on the derivatives industry, the great depression, the Federal Reserve, history, and economics. I read the Economist and the Financial Times often. I try to avoid the popular media, including TV and radio shows which tend to entertain, sensationalize, and trivialize the really important principles of self-government. Neil Postman’s book “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business” is very reflective of how I feel about television. I believe it almost always hurts more than helps our level of knowledge and understanding about important topics. Nothing is better for gaining knowledge and context than books — especially old ones.
In the past year I’ve met with a Utah senator about the financial crisis and misguided bailout efforts, shared a cab with a Utah congressman in NYC, had meetings with a former Utah congressman and former US Senate candidate who has been a long time friend. I’ve also spoken with campaign chairmen of several national Senate races and campaign insiders at gubernatorial and congressional races.
I’m especially interested in how social media might transform and revitalize the concept of self-government in the United States and throughout the world. I’d like to see the oligarchy replaced or supplemented by an active and informed citizenry, and I think Facebook has the potential to dramatically reshape the entire political landscape.
About 90 million people in the US are using Facebook and I believe that number is growing by 5-6 million per month. That means that by election day 2010, approximately 150-160 million Americans will be on Facebook. And a couple years after that, perhaps it will be 80% or more of the electorate. Can you imagine the day?
Next week I’ll be in DC for a Technology & Government summit, where Silicon Valley meets Washington, DC. I’ll be liveblogging the event, which will give me a chance for 2 days to listen carefully to leaders from many government agencies as well as venture capitalists and entrepreneurs who are trying to have an impact in government — or at least get their piece of the government largesse that is so plentiful these days.
With all the time I’m spending trying to understand the history behind the major economic and political problems we are facing in this country, you can imagine how relieved I was to take a Pew News IQ Poll tonight and score 12/12, ranking me in the top 2% of Americans who also got all the questions correct. Whew!
(I wonder if I would have blogged this if I hadn’t gotten a perfect score. What do you think?)