How is technology changing the world of Washington D.C.?

Jesse Lee blogging in WordPress

When I walked into the Speaker of the House’s press room and saw a staff member (Jesse Lee, Senior New Media Advisor for Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi) typing a blog into WordPress, I knew the world had changed (I remarked that I knew that Matt Mullenweg, founder of Automattic which makes WordPress, was a smart guy from the first time I met him). That’s Jesse on this post typing into his WordPress-run blog.

When I was talking with Senator Tom Coburn and he didn’t flinch when we turned on our live cameras during our interview, I knew the world had changed.

When I pulled out my cell phone like a tourist and no one looked at me like I was a dork, I knew the world had changed.

When I was talking with Representative Tim Ryan and he was talking about debating his fellow Congressmen via Twitter, I knew the world had changed. (Here’s his Twitter account).

When I visited the Senate Chambers and saw laptops on the floor, I knew the world had changed.

When I was talking with Representative John Culberson and he talked about showing President Bush Twitter and Qik (and getting shut down by the Secret Service), (Part I, Part II, Andrew Feinberg filmed the whole thing with his camera here). I knew the world had changed. Plus he ambushed a TMZ video crew this afternoon.

Some things that haven’t changed?

1. The President, today, was shown Qik and Twitter by Congressman John Culberson. Here’s his Qik account. Here’s his Twitter account. Culberson said he was amazed by the technology and almost agreed to do the first Qik interview from the Oval Office, but that the Secret Service jumped in and said that that was a no-no. His Twitter message from the Oval Office is the first from the White House that Culberson knows about.

2. The press room at the Senate was fairly old school. Laptops and cell phones are not allowed into Senate chambers. Culberson, in his interview with us, told us that he was going to break rules and bring his cell phone into some congressional hearings and film them so his constituency can see what goes on.

3. Culberson had not yet seen FriendFeed, but said that he’d been shown Summize (live Twitter search engine) by Erica O’Grady. He promised me he’d try FriendFeed.

At one point I looked at my son, Patrick, who is helping me out on this trip, and wondered just how much the world would change in his lifetime?

Tomorrow more questions and answers as we do even more interviews.

132 thoughts on “How is technology changing the world of Washington D.C.?

  1. robert – people can wait and if they are that important, then get more people at fc on the job – i will call paul today and have him move people over :)

  2. robert – people can wait and if they are that important, then get more people at fc on the job – i will call paul today and have him move people over :)

  3. Steve: from what Culberson told me, the President was impressed by Qik and Twitter.

    Allen: the problem with HD videos is you need to edit them, compress them, upload them. We probably won’t have them up until late next week because of that. So, you now have a choice. You can watch them live, but with low quality, or you can wait a week or two and see them in higher quality.

    Jonathan: I guarantee you that Ryan and Culberson are looking at their Tweets while they are in session, so that’s two members who can be live tweeted.

  4. Steve: from what Culberson told me, the President was impressed by Qik and Twitter.

    Allen: the problem with HD videos is you need to edit them, compress them, upload them. We probably won’t have them up until late next week because of that. So, you now have a choice. You can watch them live, but with low quality, or you can wait a week or two and see them in higher quality.

    Jonathan: I guarantee you that Ryan and Culberson are looking at their Tweets while they are in session, so that’s two members who can be live tweeted.

  5. Thanks for a nice post, it almost made me nostalgic remembering my school
    days, those were the times when internet and cell phone were catching up in Indian. Mobiles were very costly and no one other than rich guys could have imagined having that now. I saw India growing, catching up the pace of technology, fighting poverty and infrastructure …

  6. Thanks for a nice post, it almost made me nostalgic remembering my school
    days, those were the times when internet and cell phone were catching up in Indian. Mobiles were very costly and no one other than rich guys could have imagined having that now. I saw India growing, catching up the pace of technology, fighting poverty and infrastructure …

  7. @Steve

    I can assure you that you are incorrect and the premise of Scoble’s arguement is incorrect. The Congress-folk are aware of this stuff, and even amazed and/or amused by it but, as noted, they aren’t allowed to use things as simple as laptops or cellphones in a live setting.

    That’s nice that they are aware of these tools, but until we can “tweet” feedback into a live Senate hearing it’s all worthless. Our government is more worried about the potential security risks of basic technologies (cellphones and laptops) than they are interested in realizing their benefits. We are a loooong way off from anything we are starting to use now seriously penetrating the way gov’t works.

  8. @Steve

    I can assure you that you are incorrect and the premise of Scoble’s arguement is incorrect. The Congress-folk are aware of this stuff, and even amazed and/or amused by it but, as noted, they aren’t allowed to use things as simple as laptops or cellphones in a live setting.

    That’s nice that they are aware of these tools, but until we can “tweet” feedback into a live Senate hearing it’s all worthless. Our government is more worried about the potential security risks of basic technologies (cellphones and laptops) than they are interested in realizing their benefits. We are a loooong way off from anything we are starting to use now seriously penetrating the way gov’t works.

  9. Looks like someone needs to upgrade to WordPress 2.5! ;)

    speaking of “changing the world”, I think this pretty much sums up McCain’s view of technology
    http://thismodernworld.com/4369
    ‘“John McCain is aware of the Internet,” says Soohoo.’

    @Steve: if I were going to be cynical about this (and…. I am), I would say that sure, the President has probably seen some incredible military technology that is years away, but as far as being nonplussed about Qik or Twitter? i’d say 1) he probably doesn’t really understand the significance, and 2) he has (as Tom Tomorrow said in the link above) zero intellectual curiosity.

  10. Looks like someone needs to upgrade to WordPress 2.5! ;)

    speaking of “changing the world”, I think this pretty much sums up McCain’s view of technology
    http://thismodernworld.com/4369
    ‘“John McCain is aware of the Internet,” says Soohoo.’

    @Steve: if I were going to be cynical about this (and…. I am), I would say that sure, the President has probably seen some incredible military technology that is years away, but as far as being nonplussed about Qik or Twitter? i’d say 1) he probably doesn’t really understand the significance, and 2) he has (as Tom Tomorrow said in the link above) zero intellectual curiosity.

  11. @Ontario

    As a consultant one of the questions I ask before going on site with every customer is “Am I allowed to bring in my cell phone which has a camera?” and still get places where I can’t bring my phone on site with me. These are the same places my laptop (protected by anti-virus, firewall, anti-malware) is not allowed on the network as well.

    No suprise government places aren’t allowing cell phone cameras

  12. @Ontario

    As a consultant one of the questions I ask before going on site with every customer is “Am I allowed to bring in my cell phone which has a camera?” and still get places where I can’t bring my phone on site with me. These are the same places my laptop (protected by anti-virus, firewall, anti-malware) is not allowed on the network as well.

    No suprise government places aren’t allowing cell phone cameras

  13. Scoble is typical of those who live on the West Coast. There are more technology workers in the Wash DC region than Silicon Valley. (I’ll find the source of that data if you like)…..

    Fact is the business of Washington DC is communicating. Selling an idea a concept. Manipulating public opinion. I dare say, Scoble and his crowd are ignorant of the massive PR/Disinformation/Intelligence/Campaign/ complex that is the Washington DC region. From the “K” Street silk stocking Law firms to the Non-Profit organizations that are headquartered across the river in Alexandria they’ve been using technology to sell their messages for years. The “world” changed long ago in DC….it’s just that these self anointed visionaries like Scoble can’t imagine the world could function without their guidance.

  14. Scoble is typical of those who live on the West Coast. There are more technology workers in the Wash DC region than Silicon Valley. (I’ll find the source of that data if you like)…..

    Fact is the business of Washington DC is communicating. Selling an idea a concept. Manipulating public opinion. I dare say, Scoble and his crowd are ignorant of the massive PR/Disinformation/Intelligence/Campaign/ complex that is the Washington DC region. From the “K” Street silk stocking Law firms to the Non-Profit organizations that are headquartered across the river in Alexandria they’ve been using technology to sell their messages for years. The “world” changed long ago in DC….it’s just that these self anointed visionaries like Scoble can’t imagine the world could function without their guidance.

  15. There’s a lot of momentum for change. It’s nice to hear your you’ve seen some evidence in Washington. I believe we can change things, and it will take more than Obama… we’ll have to be bold and active as well. :)

  16. There’s a lot of momentum for change. It’s nice to hear your you’ve seen some evidence in Washington. I believe we can change things, and it will take more than Obama… we’ll have to be bold and active as well. :)

  17. I dunno, but I gotta believe the President has seen plenty of technology that is light years ahead of Qik and Twitter. Thus it’s no surprise he was left unimpressed

  18. I dunno, but I gotta believe the President has seen plenty of technology that is light years ahead of Qik and Twitter. Thus it’s no surprise he was left unimpressed

  19. @Sandra Possing
    Ya I cant wait for Obama to expand the government some more. Hopefully we will be under constant surveilance like the brits. Gobama!

  20. @Sandra Possing
    Ya I cant wait for Obama to expand the government some more. Hopefully we will be under constant surveilance like the brits. Gobama!

  21. Way cool.. I’ve had similar meetings recently in DC. It really is a changing government with e-government and v-government and government 2.0 – now we just need to get them to 11.0.

    p.s. it was great to meet you in person last year at Supernova.. shame I won’t be there this year.

  22. Way cool.. I’ve had similar meetings recently in DC. It really is a changing government with e-government and v-government and government 2.0 – now we just need to get them to 11.0.

    p.s. it was great to meet you in person last year at Supernova.. shame I won’t be there this year.

  23. Impressive and indicative at the same time… blogging with WordPress, but at-least two versions behind the latest release based on that image.

    Sure I’m being nit-picky but I bet you come up with your own bureaucracy punchlines after thinking about it for just a moment.

  24. Impressive and indicative at the same time… blogging with WordPress, but at-least two versions behind the latest release based on that image.

    Sure I’m being nit-picky but I bet you come up with your own bureaucracy punchlines after thinking about it for just a moment.

  25. When looking at how government needs to change, don’t just look at the Federal Government. I live in San Bernardino County, California, and when I was last called for jury duty, I had to leave my phone in the car. Why? Because it has a camera on it.

    Unfortunately, many “e-Government” attempts need to be examined via the filter of 9/11 – a world in which a shoe, or 4 ounces of a liquid, is perceived as potentially taking hundreds of lives. It’s understandable why the Secret Service may get a little jittery…

  26. When looking at how government needs to change, don’t just look at the Federal Government. I live in San Bernardino County, California, and when I was last called for jury duty, I had to leave my phone in the car. Why? Because it has a camera on it.

    Unfortunately, many “e-Government” attempts need to be examined via the filter of 9/11 – a world in which a shoe, or 4 ounces of a liquid, is perceived as potentially taking hundreds of lives. It’s understandable why the Secret Service may get a little jittery…

  27. Thanks for this, Robert. Enlightenment is slow but it’s coming, and meantime I had great fun discussing ANWR drilling last night on Twitter with @johnculberson – democracy is a wonderful thing.

  28. Thanks for this, Robert. Enlightenment is slow but it’s coming, and meantime I had great fun discussing ANWR drilling last night on Twitter with @johnculberson – democracy is a wonderful thing.

  29. Awesome job on recapping your mtgs on The Hill today. The time will come where we will see more transparency coming out of DC, which is very cool. Out with the old and in with the new. Technology is our enabler and what will enable us to stay competitive and be a world leader. Keep pushing and keep sharing the message and keep educating the masses through your viral network, it will make a difference.
    Cheers, F.

  30. Awesome job on recapping your mtgs on The Hill today. The time will come where we will see more transparency coming out of DC, which is very cool. Out with the old and in with the new. Technology is our enabler and what will enable us to stay competitive and be a world leader. Keep pushing and keep sharing the message and keep educating the masses through your viral network, it will make a difference.
    Cheers, F.

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