Low turnout for Silicon Valley Tech Policy Summit - do tech companies care about policy?
There was a low turnout at the Silicon Valley Tech Policy Summit in San Jose that was attributed to six inches of snow in Washington D.C. which grounded travelers.
But that doesn't explain why there weren't lots of Silicon Valley execs at the two day conference. Or rather, it shows that Silicon Valley's traditional lack of interest in politics continues, despite numerous reasons why such ignorance can be damaging.
Star power such as Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher of the Wall Street Journal and other top editors from the Financial Times, Time, Forbes, BusinessWeek, Newsweek and even blog publisher Om Malik -- couldn't draw much of a local crowd.
I popped in on Tuesday and caught a few panels.
The Future of the Internet panel moderated by Declan McCullagh, News.com was lackluster with Jim Dempsey, policy director, Center for Democracy and Technology, Lauren Gelman, Assoc. Director of Stanford's Center for Internet and Society, and Andrew McLaughlin, head of global public policy and senior counsel at Google.
There was a lot of talk but little was said. I complained about it to Sean Garrett, one of the founders of 463 Communications, helping tech companies to "navigate the intersection of technology, public policy and government."
He said that much of the talk was in a type of "code" that is understandable by those that deal with Washington politics.
"For example, one person at my table was surprised at what the Google guy had to say. And often, it is not what they say, but what the don't say," he explained.
It was good to catch up with Mr Garrett, he always brings insightful perspectives into the tech policy process. He works closely with big Silicon Valley companies such as Cisco, Sun Microsystems and Verisign. And he is a blogger too, writing The 463: Inside Tech Policy blog.
He said that it was interesting that the older technology companies lobbied politicians in the old way, with face to face meetings, etc. There was no one using the social networking technologies. "There is an opportunity for a hybrid approach," he said, but no one is doing it, at least not yet.
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Tech Policy Summit is an invitation-only executive conference that brings together prominent leaders from the private and public sectors to examine critical policy issues affecting technology innovation and adoption in Silicon Valley and beyond.