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Obama Appoints Non-Tech Guy As CTO

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the jesse-ventura's-political-return dept.

Government 252

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "President Barack Obama has named his chief technology officer, and the appointee is not a Silicon Valley name like so many predicted. He is Aneesh Chopra. As the Secretary of Technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia, his job has been to 'leverage technology in government reform, promote Virginia's innovation agenda, and foster technology-related economic development with a special emphasis on entrepreneurship.' But Chopra's not a tech guy. Before he got his secretary job in 2005, he was a managing director at the Advisory Board Company, a public-market health care think tank, as well as an angel investor." O'Reilly Radar is running an article discussing why Chopra is a good choice for federal CTO.

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252 comments

Open Source Alternatives (4, Interesting)

micromegas (536234) | about 5 years ago | (#27626401)

What is his stance on the open source revolution? Linux/Open Office/Open Source solutions can contribute to massive savings for school districts but it's been beaten down/back by those with financial interests.

Re:Open Source Alternatives (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27626559)

Don't be stupid... Schools are meant to teach pupils how to function in the real world. Not your little OSS fantasy world.

You grew into OS office software and can go back any time, if needed. Those kids won't be able to do that. You'd effectively be crippling them.

What you refuse to admit is that your so called "massive savings" talk is just you wanting to get them young and convert them to your ideology, at any cost. This cost won't be in the form of money, it'll be in the form of new clever minds in the workspace that have no idea how to use the software actually used there.

If anything, you are WORSE than Microsoft if you truly believe that children should be crippled like that. Just so you can satisfy your ideology.

If you want to promote OSS, then do just that. Don't try to force people into it. Lead them into it.

-XcepticZP

Re:Open Source Alternatives (3, Interesting)

samriel (1456543) | about 5 years ago | (#27626717)

The purpose of a school is NOT to teach students how things work right now, but how they will work in the future. How do you know that OSS won't become more accepted, if not the norm, in tomorrow's industry? Your Linux conspiracy theories are just as bad as anti-MS ones.

FOAD AC.

Re:Open Source Alternatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27626791)

His trolling aside, how do you know the OSS will be the future. It's all speculation at best.

Why not a well-rounded approach instead of focusing on one OS type?

Re:Open Source Alternatives (2, Informative)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 5 years ago | (#27627157)

I'd say teach using things like Ubuntu, Open Office, etc. for the most part. Then have some specific classes that teach the differences between Ubuntu and Windows, Open Office vs Microsoft Office, etc.

By doing so, you can literally give the students all the software they need at home, from which they'll learn all the skills they'll need.

And with the class that specifically covers Microsoft's products differences, they'll know the quirks of said products and it will require far less money, because they won't need to purchase Microsoft products to go to school.

Re:Open Source Alternatives (5, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 5 years ago | (#27626795)

The purpose of school shouldn't be teach students to be drones that can't think for themselves. It should be "teach them how to learn". Everybody I grew up with learned on DOS, UNIX (icons ftw) and Apple. We had little trouble adapting to the changing computer world. Now if people learned on Linux right now, they would have a lot less catching up then we ever did, even if they had to switch to windows for a job. Tech concepts and not memorization and you will get a lot further.

Re:Open Source Alternatives (5, Insightful)

Omestes (471991) | about 5 years ago | (#27627275)

You grew into OS office software and can go back any time, if needed. Those kids won't be able to do that. You'd effectively be crippling them.

Are kids dumber now that they ever were? The first computer I had contact with through school was an Apple IIe, did this crush my ability to learn to use Windows when it finally came out? Really, that is one of the most innane arguments I have heard. If we expose our children to many different computers/OSs/software suites, it leaves them with adaptability.

Hell, it wasn't until rather late in high school that I actually found a computer, in school, using Windows, with Office on it, and all the other "standard" stuff, before that there was some nice DOS boxes, a few early Macs, a TON of Apple IIes, and I even think a lowly C64 and Amiga in there. All of these with their seporate and very different OSs, different "productivity" software, and different ways of interacting with the computer. I, for some reason, doubt that this hindered my ability to exist in society much, much less... you know... use a computer. It probably helped greatly with the second bit, since it kept me from getting locked in to any particular scheme of computing.

Children are adaptive by nature, and the more we make them experience novel situations, the smarter they get. It forces them out of the rote "click x in menu y to do z", and into the the actual basis of the experience itself into a "I want to do z, now what?" mindframe.

I know several people who can't use the GUI in Ubuntu/Gnome, just because it doesn't look exactly like Windows, even though it almost exactly the same mechanically. I would rather our children don't become this.

Re:Open Source Alternatives (2, Insightful)

aesiamun (862627) | about 5 years ago | (#27627413)

If that's true then we can continue teaching them Microsoft Windows in the class room instead of Ubuntu and Open Office and they will be able to do the same thing, "I want to do z, now what?".

Otherwise, you're teaching them GNOME under Ubuntu and if they have to move to a Windows interface, they will be as confused as if they were trained on Microsoft and have to move to a GNOME based user interface. Chances are, they'll run into a Windows interface far more often than a GNOME interface.

Re:Open Source Alternatives (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27627569)

I think the argument is more that the schools should be spending their money on, say, teacher's salaries instead of Microsoft Windows.

Re:Open Source Alternatives (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 5 years ago | (#27627427)

Schools are meant to teach pupils how to function in the real world. Not your little OSS fantasy world.

If a generation of students were trained on OSS, that "fantasy world" could become a reality.

You grew into OS office software and can go back any time, if needed. Those kids won't be able to do that.

OpenOffice looks and feels very much like most versions of Office. I see no reason they wouldn't be able to adapt, especially if they were trained on how to learn and discover different systems.

You'd effectively be crippling them.

More so than current schools, which only teach MS Office?

it'll be in the form of new clever minds in the workspace that have no idea how to use the software actually used there.

...or these clever new minds would be able to clearly evaluate which software is actually best, not merely which "is actually used", or which is already there, or which they are familiar with.

That is more difficult to teach, of course, and switching to open source won't magically cause it. However, saving money on commercial software could mean more of a budget for actually teaching.

If you want to promote OSS, then do just that. Don't try to force people into it. Lead them into it.

If you want to promote commercial software, then just do that. Don't try to force people into it. Lead them into it.

Except that, the way classrooms are stacked, students are exactly as much "forced into" that, as you are afraid that they'd be "forced into" using open source.

Re:Open Source Alternatives (4, Insightful)

mpeskett (1221084) | about 5 years ago | (#27626615)

From the linked article, I'd say he's onboard with Open Source
(easiest quote to find: Virginia having "the first officially-approved open source textbook in the country")

I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing that he's not a tech guy himself; he won't be expected to go out and do the techy work. What the job requires is an understanding of technology and government, and the ability to get stuff done by supporting the right things, managing people... in short he doesn't need to be a geek so long as he has the right geeks working for him.

Re:Open Source Alternatives (0, Flamebait)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 5 years ago | (#27626653)

I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing that he's not a tech guy himself

Let's not screw around here: Is he Mac or PC?

If we can't find a reason to hate this guy, there's going to be a lot of unhappy people.

Re:Open Source Alternatives (1)

Quothz (683368) | about 5 years ago | (#27626881)

Let's not screw around here: Is he Mac or PC?

He's a Mac, no doubt. He's been involved in use of the iPod and iPhone in education, he's fascinated by social networking systems, and he likes to gloat about how Virginia had the first settlement of what would become the USA.

Re:Open Source Alternatives (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | about 5 years ago | (#27626883)

Let's not screw around here: Is he Mac or PC?

He supported a partnership with iTunes with education in his state and a project to produce educational apps for the iPhone. I'm thinking he's a Mac, or at least a Mac user.

If we can't find a reason to hate this guy, there's going to be a lot of unhappy people.

I like some of Obama's appointees and others I strongly dislike. This is another one that at least doesn't seem terrible on the surface. We'll have to wait and see if he does any good.

Re:Open Source Alternatives (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 5 years ago | (#27626973)

"If we can't find a reason to hate this guy, there's going to be a lot of unhappy people."

I dunno...with a name like Aneesh Chopra, I gotta think he'll help promote more H-1B visas...just what we need with declining employment opportunities in the US.

Re:Open Source Alternatives (2, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 5 years ago | (#27626689)

he doesn't need to be a geek so long as he has the right geeks working for him

Is that really true? I'm a lawyer. No way on God's green earth would I work under the supervision of a non-lawyer.

Re:Open Source Alternatives (1)

mpeskett (1221084) | about 5 years ago | (#27626805)

I think you can understand technology enough to be an effective CTO without being a hands-on tech guy yourself.

He's demonstrated by his history that he "gets it", so let's hope he does a good job here too.

Re:Open Source Alternatives (4, Insightful)

Anpheus (908711) | about 5 years ago | (#27626903)

Don't you work for non-lawyers all the time? They defer to you because you -are- a lawyer, but I think you might have to rescind your comment :)

I do IT, and not everyone in the chain of command knows more than I do about IT. They do know more about other things, like management, or sales, or marketing. My job in IT is to enable them to do their jobs, and so I have to know a little bit about their job, and they have to know a little bit about mine, but that's all.

If we were to live in some upside down world where we demanded everyone paying us had to know more about what we're doing than we do, no one would get anything done. Why are they paying you if they know more than you?

And this applies to you too, Ray. Your clients pay you, or your firm, or however you have it set up, and they don't know nearly as much as you do. If they did, they wouldn't be paying you.

Re:Open Source Alternatives (4, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 5 years ago | (#27627193)

Don't you work for non-lawyers all the time? They defer to you because you -are- a lawyer, but I think you might have to rescind your comment :) I do IT, and not everyone in the chain of command knows more than I do about IT. They do know more about other things, like management, or sales, or marketing. My job in IT is to enable them to do their jobs, and so I have to know a little bit about their job, and they have to know a little bit about mine, but that's all. If we were to live in some upside down world where we demanded everyone paying us had to know more about what we're doing than we do, no one would get anything done. Why are they paying you if they know more than you? And this applies to you too, Ray. Your clients pay you, or your firm, or however you have it set up, and they don't know nearly as much as you do. If they did, they wouldn't be paying you.

My clients pay me; they do not "supervise" me. When I did work under supervision (1974-1983) it was the supervision of people who did exactly what I did but had been doing it longer. That is the only kind of supervision I could accept. It was one of the main reasons I went into a "profession".

I consider information technology a profession, and entitled to the same level of respect and dignity. If you know what you are doing and have someone "supervising" who doesn't fully grasp what is going on, and doesn't understand where you are coming from, it is degrading, insulting, and counterproductive.

Re:Open Source Alternatives (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | about 5 years ago | (#27627051)

he doesn't need to be a geek so long as he has the right geeks working for him

Is that really true? I'm a lawyer. No way on God's green earth would I work under the supervision of a non-lawyer.

Supervision as in "we should handle this case in this way", of course. But what about things like "case X will have a huge impact, so focus on getting it right and let the newer people handle A, B, and C."? Ie, setting general policy rather than direct supervision.

If this guy can prioritize between "nobody's databases can talk to eachother" and "we can't get bugfixes for Important Software X because the vendor went bankrupt" and "new employees are stting on their thumbs for 8 weeks while their computer accounts get set up", then as long as he doesn't meddle beyond saying "how much will it cost to fix this" and "fix this next, because it gets us the most bang for our buck" it doesn't really matter if he personally doesn't know anything about how to fix it.

Re:Open Source Alternatives (1)

whiledo (1515553) | about 5 years ago | (#27627203)

You may not, but I know you know that this is how legal departments in companies work. When a specialized department is part of a more generic whole, at some point working your way up the hierarchy you have to eventually find someone who isn't in the same specialty. There are legitimate arguments to how high you should have to go before you get to that point, but it will usually happen in any large organization.

Re:Open Source Alternatives (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 5 years ago | (#27626949)

I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing that he's not a tech guy himself;

I'm certain its a good thing. Tech guys tend to focus more on the tech side of things - look at this, that or the other flash stuff we can do. some of that is good, but a lot of it is useless to the end-user. Techn guys tend to get a bit put out when they show their cool new tech to the end user only to be told that it doesn't help much at all. (I've been there myself :( )

As he's not one of those guys, he's going to be far more concerned with what technology can do for us end-users, how much it costs, how well it helps us - not the other way round.

I for one, welcome our new human overlords!

Re:Open Source Alternatives (1)

yascha (1526775) | about 5 years ago | (#27627517)

My only concern would be that he gets snowballed by quotes on technical things.

Provided Chopra is a good judge of character, this could be a brilliant decision by Obama.

Re:Open Source Alternatives (1)

Quothz (683368) | about 5 years ago | (#27626823)

What is his stance on the open source revolution?

Well, in Virginia he pushed (and succeeded) to get an open-source textbook approved for schools, the first in the US.

I'm unaware of any particular stance he's taken on open source operating systems. He seems to be a bit of an Apple fanboy, tho', judging by the attention he's given the iPod and iPhone.

Re:Open Source Alternatives (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | about 5 years ago | (#27626827)

What is his stance on the open source revolution? Linux/Open Office/Open Source solutions can contribute to massive savings for school districts but it's been beaten down/back by those with financial interests.

He seems to be fairly OSS neutral, at least as the Slashdot community would interpret it (which is very pro-OSS from the average). He has supported several projects in the past that provide some hope, including the open source physics textbook. He also has supported numerous innovative projects that use existing closed source technologies, like education partnerships with Apple using iTunes. He was recommended for the position by several strong OSS supporters and he seems fairly competent.

As for Linux and OpenOffice I don't know that he has shown any specific support for those projects.

Say it ain't so, Obama (0, Troll)

Henry V .009 (518000) | about 5 years ago | (#27626405)

What, does this mean that he isn't the Messiah after all? As usual, the Onion gets it right: The Media having trouble finding Right Angle on Obama's Double-Homicide [theonion.com]

Re:Say it ain't so, Obama (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27626575)

Underneath all the teleprompter smooth talk, is a chimpanzee. Obama is a talking monkey hired by the RIAA, MPAA, unions, welfare cheats, race baiters, and other parasites to do their bidding. Obama is a corrupt Chicago politician who has all the sincerity of a used car salesman. One of his goals is to enrich himself and his millionaire friends at the expense of taxpayers and productive members of society. But hey, it's "change we can believe in".

Re:Say it ain't so, Obama (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 years ago | (#27626659)

Obama is a talking monkey hired by the RIAA, MPAA, unions, welfare cheats, race baiters, and other parasites to do their bidding. Obama is a corrupt Chicago politician who has all the sincerity of a used car salesman.

How would Senator McCain been superior in this respect?

Re:Say it ain't so, Obama (4, Funny)

Bodhammer (559311) | about 5 years ago | (#27626785)

McCain would have been superior because of his ideology that is actually backed up with a lifetime record of achievement supporting those beliefs.

Before exploding in fury (4, Insightful)

snl2587 (1177409) | about 5 years ago | (#27626411)

Please read the last article linked in the summary. It definitely makes the appointment sound intelligent.

Re:Before exploding in fury (3, Funny)

4D6963 (933028) | about 5 years ago | (#27627567)

But.. but.. he isn't one of us!

I mean, did Obama even consider the CowboyNeal option?

first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27626415)

Obama is stupid!

What is he doing?

I'm really curious.... (5, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 5 years ago | (#27626469)

about this. My first reaction was that it was wrong not to appoint a technologist as CTO. Then I read O'Reilly's article, which argues cogently that the appointment makes a lot of sense.

O'Reilly is someone for whom I have respect.

I'm really really curious about what the Slashdot community has to say on this.

Usually I'm writing on legal issues, which I know something about.

But I am not a technologist, and I have no expertise in government or in policy.

Re:I'm really curious.... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27626513)

O'Reilly is even more backwards and loud mouthed than most people his age. I can't wait for the old generation to just die out already. Their legacy superstitions and bigotry have encroached far beyond what any reasonable person would find appreciable.

Re:I'm really curious.... (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 5 years ago | (#27626813)

O'Reilly is even more backwards and loud mouthed than most people his age. I can't wait for the old generation to just die out already. Their legacy superstitions and bigotry have encroached far beyond what any reasonable person would find appreciable.

Uh oh. I think that includes me.

Re:I'm really curious.... (4, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | about 5 years ago | (#27626745)

taking someone who is not very tech-oriented/aligned and putting them as CTO is just like taking politicians and lawyers and asking them to draft bills on technology.

See how well that's been working for us?

Re:I'm really curious.... (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 5 years ago | (#27626797)

taking someone who is not very tech-oriented/aligned and putting them as CTO is just like taking politicians and lawyers and asking them to draft bills on technology. See how well that's been working for us?

Hope you get modded up for that one.

Re:I'm really curious.... (4, Insightful)

Polumna (1141165) | about 5 years ago | (#27627453)

While his post was insightful and deserves some moderation to that effect, I am going to have to disagree. Lawyers and politicians absolutely should be legislating technology because legislation is their job. I couldn't do it. I think our problem has been that they are doing it wrong, for a variety of reasons.

I find a great deal of irony in your original post and this reply, because while you are obviously a lawyer, your original post demonstrates *exactly* the behaviors I believe are the full requirements I would expect from a great tech executive or politician.

First, you obviously read a tech article on your own, in your free time, displaying interest. Second, you formed an opinion. Third, you reformed your opinion based on a respected expert. Fourth, and most importantly, you went to a large community of experts (to varying degrees) in order to modify your opinion with the input of people with a greater professional interest in the subject than your own.

In all seriousness, Mr. Beckerman, despite being a lawyer and not a professional technologist, you would make a better CTO (or politician) than the vast majority of the rest of us. I would even venture to say that technologists shouldn't be forming large policies for as diverse and large an organization as the federal government. They are more likely to have biases and pay less attention to technologies they are less familiar with through professional experience.

As a side note, if you could chair the FCC or hop on in some tech position at the FTC, I would really appreciate it.

Re:I'm really curious.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27626811)

Like a lot of Presidents, Obama is bringing talented people on board and then figuring out where they fit. This guy seems like a mini-Obama. The job description is not chief system architect, but rather more about defining a vision, hiring the best, communication, juggling competing priorities and conflicting directives, choosing the right programs to be funded, and monitoring the progress of those in place. Leadership and management, in other words.

Re:I'm really curious.... (2, Interesting)

Quothz (683368) | about 5 years ago | (#27627063)

about this. My first reaction was that it was wrong not to appoint a technologist as CTO. Then I read O'Reilly's article, which argues cogently that the appointment makes a lot of sense.

This guy is a sensible choice, but perhaps not the best one. On one hand, he clearly is a technophile; he's had some nifty ideas and isn't afraid to hear new ones.

On the other hand, he seems to very much be a politician first and a technologist second. The video [oreilly.com] embedded in O'Reilly's commentary is telling: in the first four minutes, he uses the word "humbled", passively, five times. He can't resist buzzwords: "begin a conversation for dialogue" indeed. And if I hear him say "long-term strategic roadmap" one more time I'm'a puke.

So... I dunno. He looks good on paper, but he makes me want to scrub my brain after listening to him. He probably is a good choice for getting Obama's nationalized healthcare records system up and running. In other technology issues, I'm'a go out on a limb and predict that he'll turn out to be a fast-talking mouthpiece with very little real impact.

Re:I'm really curious.... (1)

whiledo (1515553) | about 5 years ago | (#27627231)

On the other hand, he seems to very much be a politician first and a technologist second.

Translation: He won't say something politically dumb and wind up resigning in the first year.

Like pretty much 99% of actual geeks would.

Re:I'm really curious.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27627119)

Oblig. "You must be new here" for assuming /. community reads linked articles.

We will have to see if Aneesh does a "heckuva job" or not.

Re:I'm really curious.... (3, Insightful)

videoBuff (1043512) | about 5 years ago | (#27627201)

Up front, let me say that my response will be colored by the fact that I was in running for a CTO position of a fairly large company. I do not have any government background also.

CTO jobs generally mean different things in different companies. In situations where there is a CIO and CTO, generally CTO works within guidelines and strategies visualized by CIO and other C-level executives. CTO is concerned primarily with operational parameters like capacity building, capability building, and even confidence building.

CTO generally understands current technology trends, has an antenna up for receiving tectonic technology shifts, and can visualize alignment of company's business goals and technology goals.

Somebody from Silicon Valley will have feelers for technology shifts that may be difficult to replicate elsewhere. Aneesh Chopra, from limited background given in submitted story, may excel at alignment, particularly in a government position with multitude of stake holders. He seems quite capable of understanding current technology trends as any person from Silicon Valley.

So the question basically boils down to this - if CTO of USA is mainly responsible for operational issues as defined above, he is an excellent choice. On other hand, if CTO of USA is charged with coming up technology that nobody can even visualize now, there may be better choices.

Re:I'm really curious.... (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about 5 years ago | (#27627363)

"But I am not a technologist, and I have no expertise in government or in policy."

That never stopped anyone around here. Fire away - tell us what you really think.

as expected (1, Flamebait)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 5 years ago | (#27626471)

Liberal? check
Brown? check
Intelligensia? check
Farking the public again? check

lalala (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27626473)

Sorry, but Obama is turning into another useless president.
Change.. riiight.

Need a serious change to the system, neither party has any concern for the people.

Change to the system (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27626541)

If you want to substantial change the system, check out the open source Metagovernment.
http://metagovernment.org/ [metagovernment.org]

Such wierd names. . . (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27626487)

I miss being able to pronounce the names of the members of my government.

Hope and Change!!! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27626511)

What do you know? A non-IT guy for CTO. Brilliant. Now THAT is hope and change!

Oh well, I guess we should be getting used to these shockingly bad decisions by the Obama administration. What's next? Emeril in change of the military? Norman Schwarzkopf in charge of healthcare? Ann Coulter in charge of the HUD (oh wait, she's not eligible, she paid her taxes)?

Maybe the solution to solving our government's technology problems is to just throw another trillion dollars or so at it. I mean, what's another trillion when we've already spent $12.8 Trillion? That'll only bring Obama's deficit to like 83% of our GDP instead of 80%.

Ya know what, for good measure, if $1 Trillion is good $1.5 Trillion is better -- let's do that and create and require the unionization of IT workers. That's what we'll do! It'll be patriotic!

Is it 2012 yet?

Re:Hope and Change!!! (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 5 years ago | (#27626729)

What do you know? A non-IT guy for CTO. Brilliant. Now THAT is hope and change! Oh well, I guess we should be getting used to these shockingly bad decisions by the Obama administration. What's next? Emeril in change of the military? Norman Schwarzkopf in charge of healthcare? Ann Coulter in charge of the HUD (oh wait, she's not eligible, she paid her taxes)?

How about putting RIAA lawyers in charge of the Department of Justice? Would that work?

Re:Hope and Change!!! (1)

TheoMurpse (729043) | about 5 years ago | (#27627299)

Your argument doesn't make much sense unless you think that only military men can be President of the US. Recall that the President is the leader of the military.

His ways are of a higher purpose (5, Funny)

Jonas Buyl (1425319) | about 5 years ago | (#27626517)

Let us not forget we must not question His actions for His ways are impenetrable.

Re:His ways are of a higher purpose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27626597)

Obama is not the Queen.

Hope and Change Baby!!! (0, Troll)

barbam (1134455) | about 5 years ago | (#27626533)

What do you know? A non-IT guy for CTO. Brilliant. Now THAT is hope and change! Oh well, I guess we should be getting used to these shockingly bad decisions by the Obama administration. What's next? Emeril in change of the military? Norman Schwarzkopf in charge of healthcare? Ann Coulter in charge of the HUD (oh wait, she's not eligible, she paid her taxes)? Maybe the solution to solving our government's technology problems is to just throw another trillion dollars or so at it. I mean, what's another trillion when we've already spent $12.8 Trillion? That'll only bring Obama's deficit to like 83% of our GDP instead of 80%. Ya know what, for good measure, if $1 Trillion is good $1.5 Trillion is better -- let's do that and create and require the unionization of IT workers. That's what we'll do! It'll be patriotic! Is it 2012 yet?

Re:Hope and Change Baby!!! (1)

sycodon (149926) | about 5 years ago | (#27627255)

The troll moderators are out in force. I guess their Sat. Morning Cartoons are over now.

Just because you don't agree doesn't mean the post is a troll. Didn't they teach you that when you watched Barney this morning?

non-tech Chief Technology Officer (5, Interesting)

viralMeme (1461143) | about 5 years ago | (#27626557)

I've seen this at a lot of organizations, the CIO is invariable a non-techie hired on for his skills at schmoozing management than any tech knowledge. Management find real techies a threat as they might get found out. They mostly spend their time quoting the tech press and spouting phrases like 'integrated innovation' and 'empowerment'. The top man specifically hires people dumber then him, else they could be as threat to his job. In turn the CTO hires someone even dumber than he is, and so on down the line. If something 'technical' comes along they hire in a 'consultant', fire him and take credit for his work. Of course any real in-house techies have to be transferred before they figure out just how stupid the CIO really is. So you end up with a business where the longest serving employee has been there less then ten months. Eventually the company goes down the tubes ...

Re:non-tech Chief Technology Officer (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 5 years ago | (#27626711)

I've seen this at a lot of organizations, the CIO is invariable a non-techie hired on for his skills at schmoozing management than any tech knowledge. Management find real techies a threat as they might get found out. They mostly spend their time quoting the tech press and spouting phrases like 'integrated innovation' and 'empowerment'. The top man specifically hires people dumber then him, else they could be as threat to his job. In turn the CTO hires someone even dumber than he is, and so on down the line. If something 'technical' comes along they hire in a 'consultant', fire him and take credit for his work. Of course any real in-house techies have to be transferred before they figure out just how stupid the CIO really is. So you end up with a business where the longest serving employee has been there less then ten months. Eventually the company goes down the tubes ...

From what I know about the technology world, you have hit the nail on the head! So why is O'Reilly wrong? What is the fallacy in his thinking?

Re:non-tech Chief Technology Officer (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 5 years ago | (#27626895)

I've seen this at a lot of organizations, the CIO is invariable a non-techie hired on for his skills at schmoozing management than any tech knowledge. Management find real techies a threat as they might get found out. They mostly spend their time quoting the tech press and spouting phrases like 'integrated innovation' and 'empowerment'. The top man specifically hires people dumber then him, else they could be as threat to his job. In turn the CTO hires someone even dumber than he is, and so on down the line. If something 'technical' comes along they hire in a 'consultant', fire him and take credit for his work. Of course any real in-house techies have to be transferred before they figure out just how stupid the CIO really is. So you end up with a business where the longest serving employee has been there less then ten months. Eventually the company goes down the tubes ...

I can't believe your comment got a downward moderation as "flamebait"; I think it deserves to "+5 Insightful". I've even reproduced it on my blog here [blogspot.com].

Re:non-tech Chief Technology Officer (1)

pandaman9000 (520981) | about 5 years ago | (#27627125)

Truthfully, it is insightful. It is also incorrect in one major area. The company doesn't go down the tubes, because those few brilliant people with zero aspirations or self motivation will never be fired, and will tirelessly crank out results for their management. The will be paid more than their soon to be released peers, but never anywhere near their true worth.

It is the way corporate America works. There are many subtle variations on this, but it always boils down to competent "followers" and incompetent, but politically savvy (and greedy) leadership.

Insert the usual, IMO, YMMV, FWIW, and I{don't like}ANAL.

Re:non-tech Chief Technology Officer (1)

viralMeme (1461143) | about 5 years ago | (#27627401)

I can't believe your comment got a downward moderation as "flamebait"; I think it deserves to "+5 Insightful". I've even reproduced it on my blog here [blogspot.com]

Jeez, thanks, it's nice to be appreciated. As for getting modded down, that's known as mod trolling ..

You got modded down by mgt. idiots around here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27627159)

The reason you were modded down as 'flamebait', is because this place is crawling with "non-technical mgt. idiots", & you were/are COMPLETELY correct about them. They are threatened by anyone that knows more than they do and that can expose them for the MBA bearing fakes they really are, as far as the art & science of computing. I too agree, that the "company will go down the tubes" with a blind-man @ the wheel (in other words, someone running the show in a company that deals in tech, but has NO tech under his skills belt whatsoever) & the entire nation of the United States has fallen victim to these "slogan spouting rats" that have no clue/idea whatsoever in the areas they are "leading" & thus they make HUGE mistakes, because they have no inkling of what's going on. I suppose it sort of "boils down" to something like this - I personally most certainly wouldn't want to go to a surgeon that had never performed surgery for instance, and I don't think anyone sane would either.

Re:You got modded down by mgt. idiots around here (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 5 years ago | (#27627243)

The reason you were modded down as 'flamebait', is because this place is crawling with "non-technical mgt. idiots", & you were/are COMPLETELY correct about them. They are threatened by anyone that knows more than they do and that can expose them for the MBA bearing fakes they really are, as far as the art & science of computing. I too agree, that the "company will go down the tubes" with a blind-man @ the wheel (in other words, someone running the show in a company that deals in tech, but has NO tech under his skills belt whatsoever) & the entire nation of the United States has fallen victim to these "slogan spouting rats" that have no clue/idea whatsoever in the areas they are "leading" & thus they make HUGE mistakes, because they have no inkling of what's going on. I suppose it sort of "boils down" to something like this - I personally most certainly wouldn't want to go to a surgeon that had never performed surgery for instance, and I don't think anyone sane would either.

I agree with you. I don't think a person not trained in technology should be supervising in the field of technology. It is a profession, and should be accorded the dignity of a profession. No lawyer can be supervised by a non-lawyer; no doctor can be supervised by a non-doctor; no technologist can be supervised by a non-technologist.

But what I'm trying to understand is this: if O'Reilly is wrong, why is he wrong?

Bag of Air Says What (3, Insightful)

zmnatz (1502127) | about 5 years ago | (#27626599)

I'm gonna reform copyright. The laws are faulty.
- Let me fill the DOJ with RIAA lawyers.
The current tech laws need reform.
- Let me appoint another windbag politician to do it instead of someone who actually knows what the hell bittorrent is.

Re:Bag of Air Says What (2, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 5 years ago | (#27626669)

I'm gonna reform copyright. The laws are faulty.

- Let me fill the DOJ with RIAA lawyers.

The current tech laws need reform.

- Let me appoint another windbag politician to do it instead of someone who actually knows what the hell bittorrent is.

That was my initial reaction. But O'Reilly makes a cogent contrary argument. What is flawed in what O'Reilly is saying?

Re:Bag of Air Says What (2, Insightful)

pandaman9000 (520981) | about 5 years ago | (#27627213)

O'Reilly's discourse is generalized and vague enough to land me a job as a teacher at MIT, if I use the same level of granularity in my resume'. While the guy may have actually done something, I do not get a Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Linus Torvaldis, etc kind of feel about his accomplishments.

I'd probably fail miserably at that teaching job, and this guy seems similarly equipped for his position.

I hope I am wrong. I also hoped i'd be wrong about a dem President+Congress combo meal. That combo is going to give me a heart attack from all the pork in it, and the price is so high that the entire country can't afford it.

I voted for McCain. Not because I was stoked about 'staying the course' or experiencing little change. It was because I am deathly afraid of anyone that makes me feel genuinely uplifted and excited when I listen to them. I usually use that approach when uncapping the K-Y. So did ObangYa.

Re:Bag of Air Says What (2, Interesting)

Jonas Buyl (1425319) | about 5 years ago | (#27626765)

- Let me appoint another windbag politician to do it instead of someone who actually knows what the hell bittorrent is.

People in charge aren't supposed to know everything, that's why they have advisors. A techie as CTO will get lost in details and won't be able to think outside the box or will probably be too biased (e.g. Windows vs. Linux) and won't make a fair judgement. What we need is a bright leader and I believe that's what he is.

Re:Bag of Air Says What (1)

zmnatz (1502127) | about 5 years ago | (#27626817)

I'm sorry, have you ever been to Virginia. There really aren't many bright politicians there.

Re:Bag of Air Says What (1)

pandaman9000 (520981) | about 5 years ago | (#27627249)

You want a technology-AWARE person. Someone who's been in the field, and done some hardcore programming, network design, or a combination of tech skills and project management/people management combined with a tech background. Ultimately, the CTO/CIO is a manager that comes FROM a tech background, not moves TO one.

That last part highlights my issue with this guy.

Re:Bag of Air Says What (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about 5 years ago | (#27627309)

You want a technology-AWARE person. Someone who's been in the field, and done some hardcore programming, network design, or a combination of tech skills and project management/people management combined with a tech background. Ultimately, the CTO/CIO is a manager that comes FROM a tech background, not moves TO one. That last part highlights my issue with this guy.

And that is my issue with this guy.

Here's the question (1)

bogaboga (793279) | about 5 years ago | (#27626739)

Here's the question:

Does Open Source Software stand a chance with this guy or do we have to educate him on what OSS is all about [opensource.org]?

Welcome to the Obama Regime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27626759)

Why does anyone expect any different? The guy is an empty suit with NO idea what he is doing, I mean, he has ZERO political experience whatsoever. But hey, everyone voted him in on "hope and change"! Well, you people are getting it, and you sure deserve it.

Horrible (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27626771)

I understand that Obama appointed a Secretary of State that doesn't know how to take shorthand, and a Defense Secretary that's never been a general and Treasury Secretary that's never discovered any buried treasure, not even once.

Ooooh, I'm so mad!

Please note that the average UID of the people making uninformed (didn't read TFA) anti-Obama comments here is over 1200000. Coincidence or astroturf?

Re:Horrible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27627129)

Judging from the idiomatic language, I think there's at least one sockpuppet here. And there's an astroturfing coming from one of the right-wing forums or channels.

On the other hand, the open-source-government guy modded himself up.

Too bad the intellectually honest people are too honest to screw with slashdot, as the web brownshirts do (and no, the crypto-fascists don't get to rewrite history with this term... In this scenario, the U.S. right wing is the Nazis).

Good Choice (4, Interesting)

waldoj (8229) | about 5 years ago | (#27626863)

I worked with Aneesh earlier this year on an open government project here in Virginia. He asked me to function in a very small role in developing stimulus.virginia.gov, basically to serve as a programmer/open government guy to advocate from the inside for increased openness and strong adherence to public, open data exchange standards on the website and its API. Aneesh isn't a geek, but he "gets it," if I may return to that old chestnut that we all employed round about 2000. He might not know Unicode from Latin 1, but he surrounds himself with people who do know the difference, he gets the gist of it from them, and chooses the path that provides the most accessibility for the most data to the most people.

The guy is, incidentally, utterly exhausting to try to keep up with. I'm somebody to whom people say constantly "when do you sleep?", and even I find Aneesh an absolutely whirlwind of activity.

The only downside for me here is that Aneesh had expressed interested in me joining Governor Kaine's cabinet as "Senior Advisor for Open Government" (or something like that). I'd been in talks with my employer about taking a leave of absence. Now, of course, that won't happen. But since the (apparent) tradeoff is having Aneesh as the nation's CTO, that's A-OK by me.

Re:Good Choice (1)

molarmass192 (608071) | about 5 years ago | (#27627033)

Good post ... good to hear he's in it for the right reasons and not the lobbyist perks. Hope he keeps the tech innovation in this country moving forward instead of mired in IP litigation.

He meets the #1 requirement (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27626965)

What does being qualified have to do with any of the first foreign presidents choices. The only qualification that counts, is do they believe in Marxists principles.

Skillful Manager Skillful Technologist (1)

ITFromHome (1432373) | about 5 years ago | (#27626969)

Skillful technical people cannot be guaranteed as successful managers of other skillful people. A manager is almost always going to be managing people who are more technically skilled at their job. If that's not the case, you are confusing the word manager with supervisor.

A CIO is the highest level of manager, and therefore his technical skills hardly come into play. We shouldn't criticize him because he doesn't have the same background as some of us. Obama doesn't know the exchange rate of the dollar to the South African Rand or the unemployment rate in South Dakota off hand. He leads people whose job it is to keep up foreign relations with SA and others who create job opportunities in South Dakota.

Re:Skillful Manager Skillful Technologist (1)

pandaman9000 (520981) | about 5 years ago | (#27627407)

.............And the less leadership knows of the area they are leading, the less effective they are. Electing a first term senator to the highest elected office in the nation might have been folly. Oh, wait. I see it IS folly.

You have to have been a solid player in the game, in order to successfully know if you are making a wise choice, or being played.

I don't get it... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | about 5 years ago | (#27626979)

...can someone from the USA please explain to me, what this C*Os have to do with anything in the government, and how they relate to it. Because I thought (from my noobish simplified perspective) you had a parliament that is elected by the people, and a second one, that is elected by the first parliament. And a president that is somehow directly, but yet still indirectly elected by the people.

But if you have chief anything officers of everything, who are chosen by the president saying so (after whatever happened internally), and they decide things, then this is all just a big farce, isn't it?

Either I don't get it, or this is all just a big elaborate trick to make people believe that they actually have any power in this, while in reality, they have none?

glorified secretaries (1)

whistlingtony (691548) | about 5 years ago | (#27627205)

all the chief whatsits and suchandsuch czars don't have any power... Think of them as glorified advisors / secretaries and you're closer to the mark.

-T

They couldn't afford relocation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27626985)

They couldn't afford relocation.

The real question is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27627009)

can he run linux?

'leverage...promote...foster w/ a special emphasis (1)

smchris (464899) | about 5 years ago | (#27627053)

Yeah, those are the sorts performance goals I look for in a job too.

I'm sure he'll be great.

Can someone explain to me what the "CTO" is? (1)

biggerboy (512438) | about 5 years ago | (#27627087)

What is expected of this CTO? Is he supposed to be like the Surgeon General is for healthcare, but without the nifty outfit? Will he be in commercials saying "Hey Kids, Watch Out When You Surf to Pr0n sites?"

Why a techie with leadership skills is better (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | about 5 years ago | (#27627103)

Qualifications for National CTO:

1. He/she has to know what he does and does not know.
(Debugging code teaches you this, and the appropriate level of humility, in spades.)

2. More generally, he/she has to have a rational enough mind about what is going to work and what not, based on scientific principles, including scientific sociological principles.

3. He/she has to be creative enough to understand and be appropriately excited by other most creative "next big things". i.e. he/she has to be able to imagine the next turning points in the technological future based on the possibilities and gaps in the technological present.

4. He/she has to be an excellent listener, with full comprehension, and an understanding of peoples' motivations, and thus an excellent communicator and leader.

IT is a pussy industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27627185)

There is no other way to conclude. Can you imagine any other industry to be "lead" by people with no qualification in that particular industry?
Any other industry would refuse an outsider, but IT pretends it's okay to have a finance or whatever person - without any IT education, experience - to "oversee" or "run" IT.
IT is truly a pussy industry...

I smell astroturf (3, Insightful)

whistlingtony (691548) | about 5 years ago | (#27627371)

you know, I've been noticing a lot of similiar posts whenever Obama is mentioned... Stuff like:

"both parties suck, don't bother"
"Obama lied to us"
and lots of just little slams. Nothing concrete. Just little jabs here and there.

I look... and a lot of these are from ACs, or people who seem to have just registered and have very few comments on their record. I smell viral marketing at work....

Lets face it, Obama didn't run as a left wing ideologue. He's been in 100 days, and although many here are peeved at the appointment of RIAA folks to the DOJ, and everyone is pissed at the bailouts (although I suspect they'd be more pissed if it all tanked and they lost their jobs/houses/etc).... for the most part, Obama has been careful and pretty center of the road. He didn't yank us out of Iraq (which would have been pretty irresponsible IMO). He is yanking funding for stupid military projects that were money sinks. Good for him. He has pushed at teachers unions... Not a very socialist thing to do. He has pushed for healthcare. People get pissed at this, but I suspect they don't realize that when someone without healthcare goes to the ER, we foot the bill anyway. He has scruitinized his appointments more than anyone else.... You think tax problems for political appointees JUST NOW became a problem?

bah, this is just my opinion. Feel free to have your own....

The point is, he's been pretty calm, politically centered for a Dem, and careful in his actions. I think he's doing fairly well given the situation. If there is an attempt to influence public opinion... I Hate Viral Marketing.

Turn your internal virus detectors on folks.

-T

Honestly...it could have been worse... (1)

thejynxed (831517) | about 5 years ago | (#27627417)

he could have nominated/appointed the likes of Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, or Darl McBride.

That being said, I'll hold a wait-and-see approach to this guy.

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