At the height of the Snowden revelations, I got to thinking whether the US government and particularly the Intelligence Community didn’t have a structural problem on its hands. Having worked indirectly in, with, albeit basically on the margins of the tech world for a decade (through various aspects of running TPM), I know that Snowden is no one-off. His mix of mindset and ideology are in fact pervasive within the tech and hacker worlds – a deep belief in transparency, an equally deep skepticism toward power and authority and a sense of right and wrong (perhaps rooted in the binary nature of code) that is deeply-held but not always smoothly applied to the ‘real’ world outside. Whatever you think of Snowden or what the NSA was doing, it seemed to me that the Intelligence world had a basic problem on its hands. They absolutely need these people to create and run their systems and yet many of these folks come in with a mindset and worldview that is in deep conflict with much of what the intel community – especially the signals intelligence world – is trying to do. That became the basis of our first TPMPrime longform piece (formerly ‘minis’). If you’re a Prime member, here it is. Let us know what you think.
We’ll be publishing two of these longforms a month going forward.