Our DC Trip in videos

We shot most of the interviews on our two HD camcorders, but they are a lot harder to work, especially when we had to do five interviews in one day, like we did on Wednesday. We now have a new rule: no more than three interviews on any one day. Five almost killed us, especially since two of them weren’t in the same place so we needed to take taxis across town (and after doing all that work we had a party where 500 people showed up to see me and Gary Vaynerchuk — thanks to Andrew Feinberg and Nick O’Neil and several others for helping to make that a really great event).

We did so many interviews and meetings I am having trouble remembering them all.

Let’s see if I can remember them all, and link to their videos on Qik.

  1. Speaker of the House’s Private Balcony. Great views down the National Mall.
  2. Senator Tom Coburn. We got that on Qik, but it’s hard to hear — we’ll get our HD version up in next couple of weeks.
  3. Representative Tim Ryan. Part I on Qik. Part II. HD version coming soon. Those were shot with Andrew Feinberg’s Nokia. I also shot it, but we had a ton of trouble getting a reliable connection, so I didn’t get the whole thing. But my recordings are here: Part I (before the Interview started). Part II. Part III. I called Tim “the Twittering Congressman).
  4. A tour of the Senate’s Press Room (recording devices and computers are not allowed into the press area on Senate Floor).
  5. Representative John Culberson. I liked him the best, he started out by showing us how he ambushed a reporter with his Qik video camera. Then he sat down with us and we had a fun conversation. Andrew Feinberg also filmed this interview and got a different point of view on the conversation (I liked his view better, and my camera crashed so I missed some of the coolest stuff while we were walking through his office. Luckily Andrew got that).
  6. Kyle McSlarrow, CEO of NCTA. Only filmed on our HD camcorders, we’ll have that up in the next couple of weeks.
  7. Representative Cliff Stearns. Only filmed on our HD camcorders, we’ll have that up in the next couple of weeks.
  8. Representative Ed Markey. Only filmed on our HD camcorders, we’ll have that up in the next couple of weeks.
  9. FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein. Here’s my view of the Interview on my cell phone. It’ll be fun to see this compared with our HD camcorders.
  10. Representative Zoe Lofgren. Only filmed on our HD camcorders, we’ll have that up in the next couple of weeks.
  11. Barack Obama’s Tech Advisor, Alec Ross. Not filmed, since it was just a breakfast meeting.
  12. White House Deputy Press Secretary Scott Stanzel. See below.
  13. Deputy Director of Newseum, Jack Hurley gave us a tour of the Newseum. More on that in a second. See below.

We had two cancellations due to scheduling conflicts. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi and Representative George Miller. We’ll be back in DC in September, so will try again then to setup interviews with them.

The Newseum tour was split up into several parts. The Deputy Director of Newseum showed us around.

  1. Lobby and 2-million-pixel screen. Shows us a news helicopter hanging in lobby and world’s largest hydraulic elevators.
  2. Top of Newseum (great views of the Capitol).
  3. Today’s Front Pages (every day they hang more than 600 front pages from around the world — printed out via PDFs).
  4. The 9/11 Gallery where a piece of the Pentagon, the cameras of the only journalist to die, front pages from around the world on 9/12, and the top of the World Trade Center.
  5. First Amendment walkway and gallery, which explain and demonstrate the freedoms Americans have due to the First Amendment.
  6. Master Control where a wall of computers and screens let a group of technicians to run all the systems in the museum (which is massive).
  7. Internet, TV, and Radio Gallery. Twitterer Jim Long is even featured in one of the videos on one of the walls that explain blogging).
  8. Journalists Memorial, which shows the hundreds of journalists who’ve died. Also shows off an armored pickup truck that protected journalists and is riddled with flak and bullet holes. Later, at about 3 minutes into this video, we see a map of the world which shows whether or not your country has a free press.
  9. Interactive newsroom gallery. Here you can create your own newscast, and play a game to test out your journalistic ethics.

Scott Stanzel, White House Deputy Press Secretary, shows us the Rose Garden, the outside of the Oval Office, the press area, and more. Sorry about the poor quality, I couldn’t get much bandwidth out of the Rose Garden. Later Marine One (a helicopter that holds the President) arrives, and I get told I can’t do live video while the President is outside. Even later Scott takes us into the White House Briefing Room and gives us a tour of that.

Finally, as we were checking out of our hotel we encountered a crowd of press and protesters waiting for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to show up.

Anyway, as we get more of our “pro quality” video up I’ll link those in as well.

Our DC trip in Photos

My son and I shot hundreds of photos, I uploaded the best 30 or so to my Flickr account. But wanted to call a few out here so you could see my favorites.


Patrick visits Washington Press Club

I’m so happy I got to bring my 14-year-old son along for this trip because he got a first-hand look at the history of our world. From seeing the front pages of famous newspapers in the Washington Press Club (above) to seeing what the Berlin Wall looked like at the Newseum to seeing the first machines that took us into space at the Air and Space Museum, not to mention taking him to many of the monuments and memorials that are spread throughout Washington, it all will have a profound effect on him. I still remember when my parents took me to see the Lincoln Memorial when I was a kid.


Picture perfect

Here we’re inside the press office of the Speaker of the House. Nancy Pelosi’s office. They have a stunning view down the National Mall to the Washington Monument out their Window.


The new press conference

Andrew Feinberg and I interviewed a few elected officials using our cell phones. Here’s a great picture, taken by my son, of this in action. The Congressman, John Culberson, is a social media revolutionary (his words) in that he’s taking his cell phone (a Nokia N95) onto the floor of the House of Representatives and other places (he shot NASA as they landed the Phoenix rover onto the surface of Mars).

Andrew’s video of John Culberson is here, and my video of him is here in two parts (Part I; Part II).


Rocky at WWII Memorial

The WWII Memorial is right near the center of the Mall and is one not to be missed. We saw it several times, and I’d recommend seeing this one at night. It’s hard not to tear up and remember what so many gave for our freedom.

Top of World Trade Center in Newseum

Bill Biggart's camera (only journalist killed on 9/11)

Inside the Newseum there’s a sizeable collection of 9/11 things in one huge room of the museum. The museum staff tells me that the “dwell time,” or time that each visitor spends in each collection is 45 minutes for just this one room in the museum (which is huge — the average visitor spends more than four hours there, they told us). One thing that grabbed my eye was Bill Biggart’s camera. He was the only journalist killed in 9/11.

Headline on 9/11

Along one wall next to the TV antenna from the top of the World Trade Center are the front pages from all the newspapers on September 12, 2001. Patrick liked, and captured, this one, from the San Francisco Examiner, which screamed, simply: “Bastards!”


Rocky "holds" a press conference

Thanks to White House Deputy Press Secretary Scott Stanzel (I knew him from when we both worked at Microsoft) we got a great little tour of the press briefing room in the White House. Of course we had our turns at the podium and got to act like we were the President, briefing reporters. Here’s Rocky Barbanica, my producer, holding a fake news conference. Of course, if this were a real news conference Jim Long, NBC camera guy in the White House, would be in the back with his video camera. Instead he was shooting a briefing over at the Pentagon but we got to see him at our party the night before where 500 people showed up (thank you! It was an amazing party for me and Gary Vaynerchuk).

The President says goodbye

I don’t care if you don’t like his politics or not (I don’t) but seeing the President take off in Marine One is, well, simply cool.


Patrick and Robert in White House

I will always treasure this photo, taken by Scott Stanzel, of my son and me. To the untrained eye it might not seem to be that remarkable. But this path is walked every morning by the President on his way to the Oval Office. Right next to the path is the famous Rose Garden. So much of history has happened here that it was very special just being here and seeing it. Thanks to Scott for giving us a tour, giving me an interview, and taking this photo.

What an interesting week, next week will be hard to make as interesting, but we’ll try.

Debriefing of our DC Trip

The White House at night

Here’s our debriefing of our DC Trip. We’ll get more videos up over the next few weeks on FastCompany.tv — we filmed most of the interviews with our two-camera HD setup, and they take time to edit.

Themes that kept coming up this week in our interviews?

  1. Our broadband access sucks in the United States. We only have the 15th best connectivity out of all the countries in the world, Representative Ed Markey told me. On the other hand, the CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association defended our broadband status, and explained why countries like South Korea are ahead (I’ll wait until we get the videos up to cover this disagreement in more depth).
  2. Advertising is something that elected officials will watch and get involved in. Several talked with me about Internet advertising tracking devices: it was clear they are worried about our privacy, and FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein is worried about the effects of advertising on children. I will do more videos in the coming months on this issue, probably at Google.
  3. Technology usage has a long way to go in government. I had several conversations with both congressmen and everyday government workers who told me that entire departments were still storing all their data on paper, at great waste. John Culberson told me one of his goals is to get all parts of government data onto computers so that people can watch better where their dollars are being spent.
  4. Our kids aren’t being well educated. Alec Ross told me about being a high school teacher in a Baltimore school in a poor district. His kids had tattered 25-year-old text books. Several of our interviews mentioned that our eductation system needs to be rebuilt to make sure our workers are competitive with those from India and China. More scientists and technologists are needed, they told me, and we’re just falling behind other countries here.
  5. Our immigration policies are screwed up. Getting the smartest people to move to the United States and getting them visas is not something we do well anymore. Ironic in the land of immigration. A couple of Congressmen said that we need reform of the H1-B system, which, they told me, builds a system of indentured servitude. Because a big company probably sponsors an immigrant’s H1-B visa, they aren’t able to leave that big company to do something more entrepreneurial, which would help our economy out more.
  6. There’s a lot of concern for our kids, that probably will turn into legislation. The FCC Commissioner, for instance, talked to my son about his concerns about the porn industry. Advertising, porn, sexual attacks, and other things came up in our conversations.
  7. Gas prices. The reminders were all over the Capitol (we walked what seemed like every hall) in bumper stickers stuck to doors, signs outside of Congressional Offices, and were brought up in almost every conversation. Heck, a Democrat, Tim Ryan, told me he supported Nuclear Energy and incentives to get electric cars back in usage. Now, go back to the 1970s. If he had said something like that inside a Congressional Office he would have quickly been strung up in the closest tree.
  8. AT&T, Apple, and Early Adopters don’t have many friends in Congress. Zoe Lofgren, D-CA, even told me she’ll dump her iPhone as soon as Google’s Android is out because she doesn’t like AT&T and also doesn’t like the closed nature of the iPhone. Only two congressmen use Macs. Out of 435 Representatives and 100 Senators. That also demonstrates that there aren’t many early adopters in Congress. Blackberries are used everywhere, though. Many Congressmen showed me that they carried two Blackberries: one for their campaigns and one for government business. Alec Ross told me that Barack Obama has very fast thumbs and is legendary for being able to whip out notes on his Blackberry.

Some things that stick in my mind from the week?

  • The newest museum in Washington DC, the Newseum is stunning. It was far better than I was expecting. They had the top of the World Trade Center there. The biggest piece of the Berlin Wall (and a guard tower). The Pulitzer Gallery there hit my soul hard. The centerpiece of the museum is a huge 2-million-pixel screen that cost more than $3 million and the world’s largest hydraulic elevators. We got a great video tour over on my Qik Channel.
  • I was able to use Qik in the parts of the White House we got a tour of with two exceptions: 1. near the Oval Office (we got within a few feet of the door) and 2. while the President was outside. Even the “pro” camera guys can’t be live with the President outside. Everytime you see him on TV outside he’s tape delayed by at least 10 minutes.
  • Sitting on the balcony of the Speaker of the House was just, plain, cool.
  • My favorite politician that I met? A Republican. John Culberson. Not because he uses social media, either. But because he votes against his party often (more than 20 times against George Bush’s proposals) but also because he has so many interesting things in his office. Zoe Lofgren is pretty cool too. Gotta love it when the first time you meet someone they start talking to you about what you think of Google’s Android.

More later, especially as I decompress and do some more thinking about the trip and what I learned.

The changing power in Washington DC

On Thursday morning I was at breakfast with Alec Ross. One of the tech guys who advises Barack Obama. He told me to look around the restaurant at the Mayflower hotel in Washington DC. He said I had landed a breakfast in one of the most powerful rooms in Washington DC (I had no idea I had before breakfast had started). Then he said “they are pissed.”

But back to who they were. He said they were the Democratic Party’s top “bundlers.” These are people who raise funds for candidates. They hold parties for rich people in their home towns and “bundle” those rich people’s donations together.

Until now they played a major role in deciding who the next president was, and they, Ross told me, do that to have access to the President.

Back to why they are pissed. Barack Obama, Ross told me, is raising tons of money $50 to $100 at a time outside of this “bundling” system. The people in the old system don’t like that a new system is being built and that they aren’t part of it.

ABC News was there at the dinner where Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton spoke together later that night and said you could cut the tension in the room with a knife.

Of course, it’ll be interesting to see if Obama’s new donors will get tired of constantly being seen as an ATM, which is the reaction of some over on FriendFeed.

Interesting to have been in that room, though, talking about tech policy with one of Barack’s advisers. He told me that Obama is going to make tech (both the policy of, and understanding of) one of the key differentiating points between Obama and McCain. To me that mattered more than who was raising money for the candidates, even as that story swirled all around us.

I asked Ross to get Obama online to demonstrate he’s willing to use online media to listen to his supporters and have conversations. I also encouraged Ross to bring Obama out to meet with other bloggers so he could explain his tech policies and how they are different from McCain’s. Of course, maybe they should just pass out this video, where McCain admits he doesn’t know how to use a computer.

Of course, at the Personal Democracy Forum earlier this week, that alone caused a pretty sizeable debate. Does a President need to know how to use a computer? Does that affect his view of the tech industry? Several Congressmen and women (Democrats, of course) told me it does. We were debating just that over on FriendFeed all week.

Regarding the Presidency, several Congressmen and women made it very clear they couldn’t wait to have a new President, no matter who it is. Both Republicans and Democrats told us that (mostly off camera). Why? They said this administration has blocked so many of their efforts that the Congress has totally frustrated them. 2009 will be an interesting year in politics, the city felt like a pressurized bottle just waiting for someone to pop the cap off.

Talking parental controls with the FCC Commissioner

Yesterday, I interviewed FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein where he turned very passionate about protecting kids from advertisers and other threats. After the cameras were turned off we continued talking about the threats online to our kids and the talk went to porn.

My son then got involved and I wrote that conversation up here. Made me so proud as a parent that my son could tell the FCC Commissioner not to censor the Internet.

More this weekend on my trip, wow, what a bunch of experiences. This morning I had breakfast with one of Barack Obama’s technology strategists in the middle of a bunch of wealthy Hillary Clinton fundraisers. Very surreal.

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.

Visit NYC & Washington D.C. with us

Tonight my 14-year-old son, Rocky (my producer), and I leave SFO to start what is bound to be one of the most interesting weeks in our lives. One thing we’re going to try to do is bring you along whenever possible. Before I get to that, though, I can’t say thank you enough to Andrew Feinberg of Capitol Valley.net and Washington Internet Daily enough for getting us into see some really interesting people. He, and his team, have been doing all sorts of work with us for months to make this trip happen and he’s been doing it for free without any expectation of anything in return. Unbelieveable guy and team and all of us at FastCompany greatly appreciate his partnership.

Here’s where to follow me:

1. On my Qik channel. I’ll do frequent live Qik videos. I’ll try to Twitter when interesting ones are about to start.
2. On my Twitter feed. I frequently Twitter from the road about what we’re doing and experiencing, plus I can answer your questions there.
3. On my FriendFeed. Even better place to talk with me. My Twitters, photos, and other things, show up on FriendFeed within minutes of me doing them and this is the best place to talk with me. I probably spend 80% of my time there, so watch this to see the best stuff.
4. Another important feed to watch is my “Likes” feed on FriendFeed. This is totally different than #3 and is YOUR stuff that I’ve “Liked.” If you want to see if there’s some value to FriendFeed this is a good place to lurk and it’s where I track the top news items.
5. On my Flickr feed I’ll post photos. My Nokia phones can get photos up within seconds of me taking them.
6. I’ll be participating in the chat room on my Kyte.tv channel — the chat room there is better because it stays up permanently and I can participate in it via text, audio, or video.
7. Rocky Barbanica, my producer, has a Twitter feed too, and so does Andrew Feinberg.

I probably won’t write many blogs here until I get back. We’re just way too busy. Check out our schedule.

TODAY: A BBQ with my dad and brother and our family. We take the red-eye to New York tonight at about 10 p.m.
SUNDAY: A free day in NYC. The Personal Democracy Forum is throwing a dinner in the evening, which we’ll attend.
MONDAY: We’re attending the Personal Democracy Forum and I’m on a panel where we’ll be talking about the Live Web (of which you are getting a great demo of above). The panel is at 2 p.m. Eastern Time. I’m sure we’ll Twitter and Qik and Kyte that a bit. After the panel we’ll take the train to Washington DC.
TUESDAY: Most of these interviews will be 15 minutes and we’ll be literally running from one interview to the next. I am not sure which ones I’ll be able to Qik, but we’ll try to Qik at least some of them:



  • Still being planned out. Possible tour of White House. Also will probably play tourist and see the Newseum and other museums. Jim Long, NBC Camera person at the White house, and famous Twitterer, is working on something, but hasn’t been firmed up yet.


Anyway, please come along and we’ll try to get you to participate. If you have any specific questions for any of these people, please leave them here and we’ll read them during our interviews.