John Doerr’s CTO recommendation

I see in the BITS Blog that John Doerr is recommending a partner to become Pres. Obama’s CTO:

Barack Obama wanted to know whom Mr. Doerr would recommend for chief technology officer of the United States, a position that Mr. Obama has promised to create. Mr. Doerr’s first choice was Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, in which Mr. Doerr invested early on. Mr. Joy is now a partner at Mr. Doerr’s firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Mr. Doerr said it would be a sacrifice to lose him to the Obama administration, but that “there is no greater cause.”

I can’t go along with that. Bill Joy is certainly an interesting guy, but he’s too much a creative mind for a government job like this one. He’s certainly done a lot of important work, what with vi, BSD sockets, and championing nfs and Java (and, as Wes Felter points out, Jini and Jxta,) but I think he tends to look a bit too far off into the future and tends to get burned on the practical side of things. I went to a talk he gave in Singapore back in ’86 in which he predicted the imminent demise of Microsoft. A talent for wishful thinking isn’t good in a bureaucrat. See: War, Iraq.

UPDATE: And more recently, Joy wrote this embarrassing piece from Wired about the danger of technical progress, which even Glenn Reynolds finds alarming. Doerr is a strong supporter of the “net neutrality” regulatory model, having co-penned an Op-Ed on it with Reed Hastings of Netflix. Protecting your portfolio is an understandable aim, but it’s not a good guide for national (and international) policy.

I hope Julius Genachowski isn’t swayed by the fact that these folks jumped on the Obama bandwagon (after their girl lost the nomination, actually.) The vast majority of the tech community supported Obama, and most of us are brighter and more sensible than the prominent figures from law and unsavory advertising who’ve made the most noise in support Google’s regulatory capture of the FCC. More on that later.

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3 Responses to John Doerr’s CTO recommendation

  1. Wes Felter says:

    I agree. The world needs blue-sky visionaries, but not in government.

    BTW, you forgot Jini and Jxta. 🙂

  2. Wes Felter says:

    I don’t know if you got the joke. Jini and Jxta were failures, black marks on Joy’s record.

  3. Since I hadn’t ever heard of Jini and Jxta, I assumed they were failures. I regard nfs has a failure as well, given that Samba has quite thoroughly kicked its ass. Implementing nfs on a real file system was always a pain due to that statelessness thing and record locking not really working, etc.

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