People who follow my work should probably know that I've been an outside consultant to Google's DC policy team for a few years now. Nonetheless, this piece posted by Ben Howe on RedState touches another nerve and something I've spent countless hours since November agitating on: the Right's broader failure to understand how technology works, and the seeming fear of it that this piece tries to stoke.
Howe's rant may be about a client, but these are my personal thoughts that touch on something very important I've been trying to get across in the last few weeks.
Howe correctly stipulates that Republicans could well get beat by a Democratic machine powered by "breathtakingly large, real-time data that could be used for real-time trend analysis, predictive modeling and even behavioral manipulation." And imagine if Google randomly happens to merge their search data with Democratic predictive modeling! Because Google executives support Obama! Because they can read your email, and stuff you write on Google Drive! (Where have we heard that before? http://tcrn.ch/Y8IpkA
) Because Joe Biden once hosted a Google+ Hangout, and this is proof of a nefarious conspiracy!
The results? "The real threat is that Google, or perhaps just a few people within the leadership of Google, may be quietly operating as a private intelligence agency for the left."
Yes, this is exactly what global technology companies do. Operate as private spying operations for political parties with dingy headquarers on South Capitol. (Rather than make money by working with everyone.)
Beyond the sheer hackery and technical illiteracy of this piece, the fact that someone thought this narrative could be successfully peddled to people on the right is dispiriting. Because the truth is actually scarier than Howe admits. Because the Obama campaign actually built something to successfully predict the behavior of individual voters on their own. And because we seem to be completely unaware of the fact that you don't need massive technology companies to build a hugely powerful political database.
You can build it yourself.
Or at least the left can. Because they have developers and technologists who actually build real things of value, instead of bellyaching about how Silicon Valley doesn't like them, or how they can't get permission from the higher ups for their non-idea.
Want the stuff Obama has? Don't play the victim. Just build it.