Cybersecurity czar is proud of his technical illiteracy



Couldn’t get a gig in finance? Or is that his intended career after leaving government?

I’m torn on this… I am not sure having “lack of legal expertise” is the same as saying “being too down in the weeds”. I am sure the Attorney General has a broad legal expertise, but I am not sure he’s doing the same work a guy just out of law school.

I think he wording is unfortunately, but at some point, especially in technology, we expect our leaders to have a broad technical vision and hire the right people to be “down in the weeds”. I certainly wouldn’t necessarily want our CIO writing code if he hasn’t written code in 7-10 years…

EDIT: missed the box before… I can see how having no previous experience could be a bit of an issue… certainly not something you would want to point out or write off…

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Its actually deliberate, “down in the weeds” made you think it wasn’t so bad.

Pro tip: If a politician/official/bureaucrat’s words don’t have a plain meaning, its because they want you to infer something that they are not saying.

I’m not sure this is an issue at all. Does it make sense to appoint a hacker to lead thousands of people? Or would it be better to have somebody with, yknow, leadership skills? Some of the very worst bosses I’ve ever had were great technicians.

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At least Howard Schmidt had CISSP and CISM certs.
Take a look at Schmidts credentials and it becomes clear that Daniel is not in the same league. Heck, they don’t even play the same game

A political appointee who doesn’t know the job, huh? Fancy that. At least he didn’t just waltz in through the public/private revolving door.

I agree with him, though. Running an organization requires a set of skills different from, and not necessarily a superset of, the skills of lower level workers. He does not need to know the low-level stuff, that is not part of his job description.

Whether or not he does the job well will depend on whether he listens to the people below and around him and gives proper weight to their ideas and recommendations, or if he tries to impose his own agenda on everything he touches, the way that many (most?) political appointees do.

You think he’s not working in finance?

Well, Ed Felten was the FTC’s first-ever chief technologist, so maybe yeah. (Prof Ed is among the world’s leading voting machine hackers, and he successfully deals with academic politics; he’s got some chops.)

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Ed felten is in a league of his own though. I have worked for executive leaders that could out code any Stanford grad, for leaders that didn’t know what an Ip address is, and I have come to the following conclusion–i prefer leaders that can get down and dirty, however don’t get into the weeds on purpose. And the article makes it difficult to deduce which camp Daniel is in.

Since everything I have ever learned came from the reboot of Battlestar Gallactica, I will remind people of that episode where the chief engineer took over as captain of the Pegasus and how disastrous it was.

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I would say that, at the very least in technical fields, and really in other fields too, it makes sense for the people making the decisions to have a solid grounding in the field they’re making decisions about. You really need BOTH technical AND leadership skills to lead an organization dealing with fundamentally technical material well. The idea that management is entirely a skill in its own right that can be completely separated from the subject matter is a myth perpetrated by MBA programs.


I would agree, but I am not sure, at the highest level, you need a “in the weeds” type of understanding. While I might expect my CIO or at least VP to understand the advantages of cloud computing, I wouldn’t expect them to be able to actually code and implement a solution…

You’re right, they don’t need and “in the weeds” understanding. I’d say what they need is to, at one point, have been a specialist in something relevant. After they’ve been in management for a few years, the field has moved on and they are no longer a specialist, but they still have enough grounding that their specialists can explain why they think a certain course of action is right, and the manager can understand that explanation.

The real issue here is that this guy is using that expression to imply that that’s the kind of understanding he has, when he actually doesn’t know anything about the field at all.

Yeah, it’s one thing to be able to do a job without having all the specialized knowledge and experience needed throughout the organization (that’s management and leadership), but it’s another thing entirely to think that a lack of knowledge is in any way superior to knowledge. He seems to be saying that knowing stuff would slow him down. O_o

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