Comparing Washington DC vs. Silicon Valley Technology Perspectives

There is a huge gap between how Washington DC views technology and Silicon Valley. If you are interested in the differences check out Stacey Higginbotham's post on her experience visiting a Washington DC conference.

This is a good summary of the difference.

All tech policy seems to boil down into a debate about states rights versus federal control. It’s like the debates over the Affordable Health Care Act with people in the halls and onstage lamenting the patchwork of state laws around privacy, internet taxation, data breach disclosure laws and more. Republican Senator Rand Paul, for example, got onstage to call out the government for imposing social standards on states at the federal level (a problem in his mind). Fellow Republican Senator John Thune apparently wants no government regulatory involvement in tech, including issues such as network neutrality or ensuring that the IP transition leaves people with some form of voice phone access. Whereas in Silicon Valley the axis might be around one company versus another (ie. Google v. Facebook or ISPs v. Netflix ) or legacy equipment versus new infrastructure, the framework in D.C. is decidedly different.

The tool of choice is paper, not a computer. I can scan the rows of people at our Structure conference and see the lids of many a MacBook or the glow of tablets, but here, while there were some folks typing in their notes, more were jotting things down on paper. And in conversations with people, only one ever pulled out a phone; and that was because someone was calling her. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler even told me after an onstage interview that people are more productive wearing a watch than using their phones to check the time because the phones then distract them. People clearly have smart phones, but they aren’t using them like they are a tether to a more interesting world.

What i would add is Silicon Valley will be much more interested in what the technology does and how it works. Washington DC is more interested in the impact of technology which can be much harder to articulate and fits in their perspective of how to regulate the use of technology.