Jan 5, 2009

More on What is a CTO: What Vint Cerf Thinks

Trending on the talk about the new CTO--rumours abound that the announcement will be made on Wednesday, here is an excerpt from The Guardian (UK) interview with Vint Cerf, the real father of the Internet.

They asked Mr. Cerf, "What do you think the CTO's job will entail?"
The first problem is 'what's the job?' - it isn't 100% clear what is desired as an outcome. It's pretty clear just looking at the campaign rhetoric that there's a great apparent desire in the Obama administration to make better use of information technology throughout the government. And so part of the motivation, as I perceive it, is to take steps to improve that.

But the choice of the term CTO, I think, was very deliberate - and probably extends to a much broader range of technologies than what you and I might think of as information technology. The indications that I have seen suggest the broader interpretation.

...So what I think is going on here is a great desire to stimulate serious thinking about how to put technology to work - and in the current economic climate there are huge opportunities.

Think of all the infrastructure that needs rebuilding across the United States. Clearly we don't want to rebuild it using 20th century technology, we want to use 21st century technology. We get to reinvent a substantial portion of the American physical infrastructure, and I would include in that the telecommunications component – so we're talking broadband.

....What I'm sensing here is that there are many parts of the government interested in green technology or practices – and the CTO, probably, could be a very vocal proponent. --Read the entire interview.
Mr. Cerf identifies a big swath of potential responsibility for a White House CTO. He goes on to raise important questions about funding and policy making. The guy has been doing his homework and says nobody has asked him about the job.

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