There was a great piece in the Washington Post last week from Dave Steer, the Advocacy Director at the Mozilla Foundation, and Jenny Toomey, the Director of Internet Rights at the Ford Foundation that I wanted to highlight. Mozilla and Ford have just launched their Open Web Fellows program, which is bringing technology talent into civil society organizations. As they describe it
Unless we address the tech talent crisis, our ability to craft effective public policy will be at risk. As one member of Congress said during the Stop Online Piracy Act debate in 2011, it’s time to “bring in the nerds” who can explain the potential risks of ill-informed Internet policies.
I couldn't agree more. While the current slate of tech-to-gov initiatives at the US Digital Service, 18F and Code for America are doing really important work to help government build better service delivery platforms and smarter tech infrastructure, technological expertise should be extended to help inform policymaking. The Open Web Fellows program-- like Tech Congress-- will do just that, and take technologists and place them in policymaking roles at places like the New America Foundation, Public Knowledge and elsewhere.
The first cohort of fellows started this month. It's an exciting development for the technology-policy pipeline.