In the weeks leading up to the SOPA vote (or delayed vote, as it were), I perused my representative's website, looking for a phone number or other means of contact to inform them of the bill's odiousness and potentially catastrophic fallout. I'm reasonably sure they'd heard it before, but had been blithely ignoring it. This simple act underscored a problem possibly bigger than SOPA: the fact that as with far too many of our elected officials, technology legislation isn't even on his radar.
The contact form on his website was apparently his preferred method of communication. I headed over and clicked a drop-down menu to select the subject of my missive. The usual suspects were there: defense, environment, budget, even transportation and agriculture -- but no "technology." All I could do was select "other."
To frame this clearly: I was using the most advanced technological form of communications ever developed to contact my elected representative about pending legislation regarding the most technological form of communications ever developed. However, the list of 17 possible topics didn't even include technology.
To politicians, this doesn't seem strange. To them, adding "technology" to this list would be like adding "plumbing" or "animal husbandry." Who could possibly care about the underpinnings of our worldwide internetwork enough to contact their representative about it?
Very few politicians get technology. Many actually seem proud that they don't use the Internet or even email, like it's some kind of badge of honor that they've kept their heads in the sand for so long. These are the same people who will vote on noxious legislation like SOPA, openly dismissing the concerns and facts presented by those who know the technology intimately. The best quote from the SOPA debates: "We're operating on the Internet without any doctors or nurses on the room." That is precisely correct.