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)┬áby 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. @ And which is a major reason why ordinary citizens was were able to take up arms to defeat the largest Empire in the world and attain their independence. And to add insult to injury, with the help of The French! Ouch! How your govt works is of no interest to me, nor most US citizens, beyond an academic exercise, as it has no impact on our daily lives. But we are flattered you take particular imterest in ours.

  2. @ And which is a major reason why ordinary citizens was were able to take up arms to defeat the largest Empire in the world and attain their independence. And to add insult to injury, with the help of The French! Ouch! How your govt works is of no interest to me, nor most US citizens, beyond an academic exercise, as it has no impact on our daily lives. But we are flattered you take particular imterest in ours.

  3. @ And which is a major reason why ordinary citizens was were able to take up arms to defeat the largest Empire in the world and attain their independence. And to add insult to injury, with the help of The French! Ouch! How your govt works is of no interest to me, nor most US citizens, beyond an academic exercise, as it has no impact on our daily lives. But we are flattered you take particular imterest in ours.

  4. @ And which is a major reason why ordinary citizens was were able to take up arms to defeat the largest Empire in the world and attain their independence. And to add insult to injury, with the help of The French! Ouch! How your govt works is of no interest to me, nor most US citizens, beyond an academic exercise, as it has no impact on our daily lives. But we are flattered you take particular imterest in ours.

  5. Pingback: Scoble in DC
  6. @mewcomm and @ jerry

    er the US does have an 18th century policical system in a lot of ways the lack of true parties being one of the major mysteries to a lot of outsiders.

    and some of the pork bareling and dubious conduct that goes on would land an MP in jail here.

  7. @mewcomm and @ jerry

    er the US does have an 18th century policical system in a lot of ways the lack of true parties being one of the major mysteries to a lot of outsiders.

    and some of the pork bareling and dubious conduct that goes on would land an MP in jail here.

  8. with my wonk hat on ime not sure one could have a debate using twitter.

    And one debates a proposition not another person

    Oh and you know why Polaticians have pages/blackberrys it so the Whips can tell lthem how to vote and/or they can get the “line” on a particular issue from the party managers

  9. with my wonk hat on ime not sure one could have a debate using twitter.

    And one debates a proposition not another person

    Oh and you know why Polaticians have pages/blackberrys it so the Whips can tell lthem how to vote and/or they can get the “line” on a particular issue from the party managers

  10. Just look how aggressively Obama and Clinton had embraced the net during their campaigns.

    Now just try to imagine the elections of 2112

  11. Just look how aggressively Obama and Clinton had embraced the net during their campaigns.

    Now just try to imagine the elections of 2112

  12. It’s interesting the way many of these otherwise stodgy old Senators and Representatives are now reinventing themselves to embrace technology. It might not seem like a huge tech victory, but I think the fact that nearly every single person in the House and Senate has – and actively uses – a Blackberry. Now, we’re starting to see a few of them embrace new, social technologies and it’s really exciting.

    We should remember though that government is very slow to change and the Twittering and Qiking and other social media loving government officials will be lone rangers for a while. The others, well, they just need a little encouragement and education. Personally, I think we should take advantage of every opportunity to connect with our elected official and show them technologies like Twitter, Pownce, Qik, etc, and show them it’s not really that scary. Let them know that you, as a constituent, want them to use these technologies and it will make communicating with those they represent much easier and more transparent. Now is the time for open government and it’s never ever been easier to do.

    One last thing: one of the absolutely coolest things I saw happen this week in Washington news was Rep. John Culberson showing President Bush Twitter and President Bush listened to him. That is change! That is revolutionary. That is exciting.

    Thanks Robert for doing these interviews. Very, very cool.

  13. It’s interesting the way many of these otherwise stodgy old Senators and Representatives are now reinventing themselves to embrace technology. It might not seem like a huge tech victory, but I think the fact that nearly every single person in the House and Senate has – and actively uses – a Blackberry. Now, we’re starting to see a few of them embrace new, social technologies and it’s really exciting.

    We should remember though that government is very slow to change and the Twittering and Qiking and other social media loving government officials will be lone rangers for a while. The others, well, they just need a little encouragement and education. Personally, I think we should take advantage of every opportunity to connect with our elected official and show them technologies like Twitter, Pownce, Qik, etc, and show them it’s not really that scary. Let them know that you, as a constituent, want them to use these technologies and it will make communicating with those they represent much easier and more transparent. Now is the time for open government and it’s never ever been easier to do.

    One last thing: one of the absolutely coolest things I saw happen this week in Washington news was Rep. John Culberson showing President Bush Twitter and President Bush listened to him. That is change! That is revolutionary. That is exciting.

    Thanks Robert for doing these interviews. Very, very cool.

  14. @jcunwired

    “I shudder to think how this administration would have approached technology if it truly understood it. I think we dodged a bullet.”

    uhhhhh,,,,Huh? It was the previous administration that had all the technology they needed but chose to not act. They are the ones that dodged a bullet. Seems after suffering the consequences of the previous administration’s ineptitude, through the use of technology this administration has done a pretty good job of dodging subsequential bullets.

    Or are you suggesting that the govt. start using Twitter to respond to and track down Obama bin Laden when he uses Qik to make future propoganda videos?

  15. @jcunwired

    “I shudder to think how this administration would have approached technology if it truly understood it. I think we dodged a bullet.”

    uhhhhh,,,,Huh? It was the previous administration that had all the technology they needed but chose to not act. They are the ones that dodged a bullet. Seems after suffering the consequences of the previous administration’s ineptitude, through the use of technology this administration has done a pretty good job of dodging subsequential bullets.

    Or are you suggesting that the govt. start using Twitter to respond to and track down Obama bin Laden when he uses Qik to make future propoganda videos?

  16. Great stuff Robert, as expected. I look forward to the complete report.

    I must say, while I look forward to a new era, I shudder to think how this administration would have approached technology if it truly understood it. I think we dodged a bullet.

  17. Great stuff Robert, as expected. I look forward to the complete report.

    I must say, while I look forward to a new era, I shudder to think how this administration would have approached technology if it truly understood it. I think we dodged a bullet.

  18. It sounds a little like you’re surprised we’re not all living in mud huts and hunting wild boar all day. Here around the beltway we have plenty of tech penetration, even Web 2.0 startups. The DC area is a great place for technology workers, particularly if you have secret clearance. Of course, with the bonus of not having to live in California ;-)

  19. It sounds a little like you’re surprised we’re not all living in mud huts and hunting wild boar all day. Here around the beltway we have plenty of tech penetration, even Web 2.0 startups. The DC area is a great place for technology workers, particularly if you have secret clearance. Of course, with the bonus of not having to live in California ;-)

  20. It sounds a little like you’re surprised we’re not all living in mud huts and hunting wild boar all day. Here around the beltway we have plenty of tech penetration, even Web 2.0 startups. The DC area is a great place for technology workers, particularly if you have secret clearance. Of course, with the bonus of not having to live in California ;-)

  21. It sounds a little like you’re surprised we’re not all living in mud huts and hunting wild boar all day. Here around the beltway we have plenty of tech penetration, even Web 2.0 startups. The DC area is a great place for technology workers, particularly if you have secret clearance. Of course, with the bonus of not having to live in California ;-)

  22. It sounds a little like you’re surprised we’re not all living in mud huts and hunting wild boar all day. Here around the beltway we have plenty of tech penetration, even Web 2.0 startups. The DC area is a great place for technology workers, particularly if you have secret clearance. Of course, with the bonus of not having to live in California ;-)

  23. I have to agree with mewcomm. The fact that Scoble seems amazed that walking the halls of the Capitol he saw technology in use is inticitive of the sheletered existence SV types live in. The govt has technology that would put anything coming out of SV to shame. The contrainst is being able to use it in the floor or in many public forums. Yay! One to random congressmen use Twitter. If it becomes more common, you bet your ass, the FBI and NSA are going to want to have access to those conversations at some point, particularly if there is questions of leaking of secret information.

    As for Bush being impressed by Qik and Twitter. Not how to accurately interprest that. For example, I’m always impressed when my 9 year old builds a winning pinewood derby car. Not all that evolutionary, but impressive none the less.

    Scoble seems to have gone to D.C. expecting to see the congress not having moved past 1800. Is sort of sad to have his son leave the visit with the expectation that the fed govt is finally catching up to the geeks. Again, a naive percepetion. Afterall, this was a govt that was able to send a man to the moon with computers less powerfull than my kid’s Nintendo DS. So, I gotta believe Twitter and Qik look laughable when put in context.

    As for Bush’s intellectual curiosity, neither you nor I know what his level is. All we have to go on is specualtion and commentary by the press. You’d just be hard pressed to convnice me that someone that has attained his level of success lacks intellectual curiosity. Either that, or you are suggesting the voting public has an IQ of about 80. (Which may be true, given Obamessiah’s popularity based on no platform)

  24. I have to agree with mewcomm. The fact that Scoble seems amazed that walking the halls of the Capitol he saw technology in use is inticitive of the sheletered existence SV types live in. The govt has technology that would put anything coming out of SV to shame. The contrainst is being able to use it in the floor or in many public forums. Yay! One to random congressmen use Twitter. If it becomes more common, you bet your ass, the FBI and NSA are going to want to have access to those conversations at some point, particularly if there is questions of leaking of secret information.

    As for Bush being impressed by Qik and Twitter. Not how to accurately interprest that. For example, I’m always impressed when my 9 year old builds a winning pinewood derby car. Not all that evolutionary, but impressive none the less.

    Scoble seems to have gone to D.C. expecting to see the congress not having moved past 1800. Is sort of sad to have his son leave the visit with the expectation that the fed govt is finally catching up to the geeks. Again, a naive percepetion. Afterall, this was a govt that was able to send a man to the moon with computers less powerfull than my kid’s Nintendo DS. So, I gotta believe Twitter and Qik look laughable when put in context.

    As for Bush’s intellectual curiosity, neither you nor I know what his level is. All we have to go on is specualtion and commentary by the press. You’d just be hard pressed to convnice me that someone that has attained his level of success lacks intellectual curiosity. Either that, or you are suggesting the voting public has an IQ of about 80. (Which may be true, given Obamessiah’s popularity based on no platform)

  25. I have to agree with mewcomm. The fact that Scoble seems amazed that walking the halls of the Capitol he saw technology in use is inticitive of the sheletered existence SV types live in. The govt has technology that would put anything coming out of SV to shame. The contrainst is being able to use it in the floor or in many public forums. Yay! One to random congressmen use Twitter. If it becomes more common, you bet your ass, the FBI and NSA are going to want to have access to those conversations at some point, particularly if there is questions of leaking of secret information.

    As for Bush being impressed by Qik and Twitter. Not how to accurately interprest that. For example, I’m always impressed when my 9 year old builds a winning pinewood derby car. Not all that evolutionary, but impressive none the less.

    Scoble seems to have gone to D.C. expecting to see the congress not having moved past 1800. Is sort of sad to have his son leave the visit with the expectation that the fed govt is finally catching up to the geeks. Again, a naive percepetion. Afterall, this was a govt that was able to send a man to the moon with computers less powerfull than my kid’s Nintendo DS. So, I gotta believe Twitter and Qik look laughable when put in context.

    As for Bush’s intellectual curiosity, neither you nor I know what his level is. All we have to go on is specualtion and commentary by the press. You’d just be hard pressed to convnice me that someone that has attained his level of success lacks intellectual curiosity. Either that, or you are suggesting the voting public has an IQ of about 80. (Which may be true, given Obamessiah’s popularity based on no platform)

  26. I have to agree with mewcomm. The fact that Scoble seems amazed that walking the halls of the Capitol he saw technology in use is inticitive of the sheletered existence SV types live in. The govt has technology that would put anything coming out of SV to shame. The contrainst is being able to use it in the floor or in many public forums. Yay! One to random congressmen use Twitter. If it becomes more common, you bet your ass, the FBI and NSA are going to want to have access to those conversations at some point, particularly if there is questions of leaking of secret information.

    As for Bush being impressed by Qik and Twitter. Not how to accurately interprest that. For example, I’m always impressed when my 9 year old builds a winning pinewood derby car. Not all that evolutionary, but impressive none the less.

    Scoble seems to have gone to D.C. expecting to see the congress not having moved past 1800. Is sort of sad to have his son leave the visit with the expectation that the fed govt is finally catching up to the geeks. Again, a naive percepetion. Afterall, this was a govt that was able to send a man to the moon with computers less powerfull than my kid’s Nintendo DS. So, I gotta believe Twitter and Qik look laughable when put in context.

    As for Bush’s intellectual curiosity, neither you nor I know what his level is. All we have to go on is specualtion and commentary by the press. You’d just be hard pressed to convnice me that someone that has attained his level of success lacks intellectual curiosity. Either that, or you are suggesting the voting public has an IQ of about 80. (Which may be true, given Obamessiah’s popularity based on no platform)

  27. I have to agree with mewcomm. The fact that Scoble seems amazed that walking the halls of the Capitol he saw technology in use is inticitive of the sheletered existence SV types live in. The govt has technology that would put anything coming out of SV to shame. The contrainst is being able to use it in the floor or in many public forums. Yay! One to random congressmen use Twitter. If it becomes more common, you bet your ass, the FBI and NSA are going to want to have access to those conversations at some point, particularly if there is questions of leaking of secret information.

    As for Bush being impressed by Qik and Twitter. Not how to accurately interprest that. For example, I’m always impressed when my 9 year old builds a winning pinewood derby car. Not all that evolutionary, but impressive none the less.

    Scoble seems to have gone to D.C. expecting to see the congress not having moved past 1800. Is sort of sad to have his son leave the visit with the expectation that the fed govt is finally catching up to the geeks. Again, a naive percepetion. Afterall, this was a govt that was able to send a man to the moon with computers less powerfull than my kid’s Nintendo DS. So, I gotta believe Twitter and Qik look laughable when put in context.

    As for Bush’s intellectual curiosity, neither you nor I know what his level is. All we have to go on is specualtion and commentary by the press. You’d just be hard pressed to convnice me that someone that has attained his level of success lacks intellectual curiosity. Either that, or you are suggesting the voting public has an IQ of about 80. (Which may be true, given Obamessiah’s popularity based on no platform)

  28. Fifteen years ago, I worked for the VC arm of the nation’s largest cable TV operator and worked from time to time with people in the Beltway. The FCC had routine show-and-tells where companies are invited to show off their wares.

    Lots of people confuse the availability of technology with the actual uses of technology. Paris Hilton was texting along using her Sidekick for awhile before it was so rudely hacked and her address book shared with all 100 million of her closest friends. Most public figures generally choose to avoid that kind of embarrassment and let their staffers get comfortable with the services first.

    After about 20 years of doing this stuff, I’m pleased that the DNC has made bloggers a key part of their communications strategy during their conference in Denver. We’ve gathered them all together at
    http://www.lastsecondstuff.com/bloggers

  29. Fifteen years ago, I worked for the VC arm of the nation’s largest cable TV operator and worked from time to time with people in the Beltway. The FCC had routine show-and-tells where companies are invited to show off their wares.

    Lots of people confuse the availability of technology with the actual uses of technology. Paris Hilton was texting along using her Sidekick for awhile before it was so rudely hacked and her address book shared with all 100 million of her closest friends. Most public figures generally choose to avoid that kind of embarrassment and let their staffers get comfortable with the services first.

    After about 20 years of doing this stuff, I’m pleased that the DNC has made bloggers a key part of their communications strategy during their conference in Denver. We’ve gathered them all together at
    http://www.lastsecondstuff.com/bloggers

  30. All that “tech” and gas is still $4 a gallon.

    PR/Disinformation/Intelligence/Campaign/ complex…you forgot general Lobbyist, and Think Tank (Cato, Brookings, Heritage and such), and the Agenda-driven Advocacy Group PACs, all the Single-Issue Groups, State Governmental liaisons, Embassy Row and so on and so forth, everyone’s looking for a pay-off, either (wisely) keeping government at bay, or directing stealing from the taxpayers and all the resulting national and international diplomacy from hence.

    But see, Wash DC was years ahead of West Coast, it all filters military and works way into Langley and such, with real practical use, anyone spending much time on both coasts, would find that obvious. Wash DC has information as it’s lifeblood, it’s a vital thing, not a gadgetry geek tinker-toy tiddly-wink.

  31. All that “tech” and gas is still $4 a gallon.

    PR/Disinformation/Intelligence/Campaign/ complex…you forgot general Lobbyist, and Think Tank (Cato, Brookings, Heritage and such), and the Agenda-driven Advocacy Group PACs, all the Single-Issue Groups, State Governmental liaisons, Embassy Row and so on and so forth, everyone’s looking for a pay-off, either (wisely) keeping government at bay, or directing stealing from the taxpayers and all the resulting national and international diplomacy from hence.

    But see, Wash DC was years ahead of West Coast, it all filters military and works way into Langley and such, with real practical use, anyone spending much time on both coasts, would find that obvious. Wash DC has information as it’s lifeblood, it’s a vital thing, not a gadgetry geek tinker-toy tiddly-wink.

  32. Robert is everywhere, and a great guy. The reason that I started Politics 2.0, http://www.politics-20.com is to explore in depth that cutting edge between politics and technology (including all the web 2.0 features – all the good stuff).

    Barack Obama is solidifying (with discipline and expertise) the online winning principles that Dean (and others) contributed to building.

    It’s a new landscape, and a new disruptive frontier!

  33. Robert is everywhere, and a great guy. The reason that I started Politics 2.0, http://www.politics-20.com is to explore in depth that cutting edge between politics and technology (including all the web 2.0 features – all the good stuff).

    Barack Obama is solidifying (with discipline and expertise) the online winning principles that Dean (and others) contributed to building.

    It’s a new landscape, and a new disruptive frontier!

  34. Maybe you have your own satellite now. (picture Harrison Ford asking for one to be ‘tasked’ … “we need to track this guy”) :-)

  35. Maybe you have your own satellite now. (picture Harrison Ford asking for one to be ‘tasked’ … “we need to track this guy”) :-)

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