Hanging out with Creative Commons' Joi Ito today

I just got an invite from DotSub’s CEO, Michael Smolen to come along with him and Joi Ito to see Larry Lessig’s last speech on Free Culture. Weird, seeing my last post. Of course I’ll put part of it on my Qik channel! By the way, my Qik videos now automatically show up on Seesmic as well. Hopefully YouTube soon. If you’re near Stanford you can come too!

Some more thoughts about photography at Davos — here’s what separates me from the pros (there were a ton of the world’s best photographers at Davos):

1. The pros had better lenses. Some of the lenses they were carrying around were $8,000 each. I only had a single 50 mm lens.
2. The pros got closer. Sometimes only inches closer but often much closer than I could get (especially when we shot Condoleezza Rice).
3. The pros shot more. I sat right next to them and they easily shot 10 times more images.
4. The pros are better at seeing “key moments.” They would anticipate when someone was about to do something interesting and machine-gun the shutter.
5. The pros had editors. I’m sure that of the thousands of images each pro made that their editors only let their very best work hit the media. Me? I posted a lot more than they probably did.
6. The pros didn’t just shoot the main action. One photographer I was watching kept shooting everyone EXCEPT for the person talking. She was getting great reaction shots that were more interesting than mine.

That said, they were jealous of the Nikon D3 I was carrying. They knew it was more sensitive to low light. One pro told me he couldn’t afford to give up his Canon lenses, but if he could he would.

Putting photos into public domain

One advantage of putting all my photos into the public domain? People are now uploading them to Wikipedia. Like this entry for AT&T’s CEO. All my photos are in the public domain now. You can use them without even attributing them, or giving me credit (although I do appreciate those of you who give credit for my work). Why do I do that? Because sharing my work with the world has brought me back so much goodness. This is also a gift to the world from Fast Company Magazine, which paid my travel expenses to go to Davos.

Here’s my people photos from Davos (other photos are now up too). Thank you to Nikon for loaning me a brand new D3 camera, which was really awesome. It shoots in 1/4th the light (two stops) than my Canon 5D, which made many of these photos possible. I made all these images using only one lens: a 50 mm F1.4.

0. Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr. Without her none of this would be possible. I just uploaded a second photo of her.
1. Pardis Sabeti, biological anthropologist at Harvard University.
2. Robert Crawford, author. He wrote the summaries for the program. This photo is a testament to the low-light capabilities of the Nikon. If you were there you would barely have been able to see Robert because we were in a really dark bar.
3. Neil Kane, CEO of Advanced Diamond Technologies, talks with John Gage, researcher at Sun Microsystems.
4. Benjamin Zander, conductor of Boston Philharmonic Orchestra.
5. Feng Jim, CEO of Beijing Hual Information Digital Technology Co. He showed me some incredible devices. I posted a video of him earlier.
6. Reza Jafari, head of the ITU.
7. Tim O’Reilly, head of O’Reilly Publishing.
8. Matthias Lufkens, head of PR for the World Economic Forum, talking with Larry Page, co-founder of Google.
9. Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, talking with David Kirkpatrick of Fortune Magazine.
10. Jeff Zucker, CEO of NBC Interactive.
11. John Markoff, technology journalist for the New York Times (I didn’t recognize him while skiing, naughty Scoble, naughty!).
12. Craig Barrett, Chairman of Intel.
13. Mustafa Ceric, Grand Mufti of Bosnia (top religious leader).
14. Steve Forbes, CEO of Forbes.
15. Yo Yo Ma, famous cellist.
16. Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, world’s largest PR firm, talks with Larry Brilliant, head of Google Foundation.
17. Queen Rania of Jordan talks with Lee Bollinger, president of Columbia University. The Queen is the only person that I saw stop a room when she walked in.
18. Lee Bollinger talking with Richard N. Haass, President of Council on Foreign Relations.
19. David Gergen, political commentator.
20. Yossi Vardi, Israeli venture capitalist, talks with Shimon Peres, Israel’s President.
21. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, hangs out with Phillip Rosedale, CEO of Linden Labs (the folks who bring you Second Life).
22. Pervez Musharraf. President of Pakistan.
23. Congressman Brian Baird (Washington State).
24. Dan Shine, vice president at AMD.
25. Nicholas Negroponte. Head of the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) project, among many other things.
26. Patrick Aebischer. Famous neuroscientist.
27. Larry Brilliant, head of the Google Foundation.
28. Elie Wiesel, Nobel Laureate. Real honor to meet him.
29. Meghan Asha and Mike Arrington. I got a photo of Meghan giving her editorial opinion of Mike.
30. Gerhard Florin executive at Electronic Arts talks with John Markoff, tech journalist for the New York Times.
31. Alexander Straub, CEO of Truphone.
32. Brenda Musilli. She is Director of Education for Intel and President of the Intel Foundation.
33. Reza Jafari. Head of ITU.
34. William Brody. Head of Johns Hopkins University.
35. J. Vasudev. Founder of Ishafoundation.
36. John Maeda of MIT. Famous graphic designer.
37. Ellen Langer. First female tenured psychology professor at Harvard. I have a second photo of her here.
38. Bob Lessin. Interesting guy, was a vice chairman at Smith Barney before he had a stroke here’s a Fast Company article on him.
39. Bono and Al Gore.
40. Al Gore making a point.
41. Mabel van Oranje (princess of Netherlands) talks with Robert Shriver who runs Bono’s Product Red Initiative and Richard Lovett, head of the Creative Artists Agency (Hollywood’s most powerful talent agent).
42. Michael Spence. Nobel Laureate/Economics.
43. Edmund Phelps, Joseph Stiglitz, Shimon Peres, Elie Wiesel at the “Nobel Nightcap.”
44. Reid Hoffman, CEO of LinkedIn.
45. Mitch Kapor. Chair of the Open Source Applications Foundation.
46. Don Tapscott. Author of “Wikinomics.”
47. Jonathan Rothberg, genome researcher.
48. Condoleezza Rice. United States Secretary of State.
49. Chad Hurley. Co-founder of YouTube.
50. HTC’s Chairwoman, Cher Wang.
51. William Amelio. Lenovo CEO.
52. Randall Stephenson. AT&T CEO.
53. Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, goofs around with Loic Le Meur, CEO of Seesmic.
54. Jeff Jarvis. Famous blogger.
55. Tariq Krim, CEO of Netvibes, talks with Mike Arrington.
56. danah boyd. Social networking researcher.
57. Esther Dyson. Famous technologist and sticker collector.
58. Linda Avey. Founder of 23 and Me.
59. Tim Brown. CEO of IDEO.

Whew, that’s a lot of photos of interesting people for one week.

Engadget alert: Chinese tech toys

Feng Jun shows me his book scanner

Engadget alert, this post is just for Ryan Block who runs the killer gadget blog: Engadget. Sometimes I love pretending I work for Engadget and am responsible for traveling the world finding killer gadgets. Hey, a guy has to have some dreams, doesn’t he? :-)

So, I was riding the train up to one of the closing parties in Davos when Tim Weber of the BBC introduced me to Feng Jun, CEO of Beijing Huaqi Information Digital Technology Company. I recorded the whole thing on my cell phone.

He pulled out of his pocket a book for the Olympics. Ahh, here the Chinese go again being proud of their Olympics, I thought.

Awesome Chinese scanner

But then he pulled out of his other pocket a gadget that he aimed at the book and it started talking about what he aimed at. Then he aimed it at some music and it played the song and he started singing along with it.

Damn, that was cool. How did it work? An infrared film over all the logos, pictures, etc that contained microdots that told the scanner what to play. Cost? $70. I want one just to keep on my coffee table.

But that was just the start. Then he pulled out of his pocket something that looked like a thick business card. Only it had 32 GB of memory on it and the damn thing had a tiny USB connector on it. I want one of those!

Finally he pulled out a digital camera. OK, I was getting bored there. But then he pulled out the SD card and unfolded a little USB connector that was on the SD card. Damn, I want one of those too for my little Nikon pocket camera.

Anyway, I got the whole thing on video. This is definitely a company to watch. The Chinese sure are doing some interesting things.

The big computer company with no headquarters

William Amelio, CEO of Lenovo, shows off new MID device

Lenovo CEO William Amelio, who above is holding one of its new MID computers during a presentation at the World Economic Forum in Davos, told me that Lenovo doesn’t have a headquarters.

I think that’s brilliant. Why? Because I’ve watched at NEC and Microsoft and other big companies as people who aren’t at the headquarters get marginalized and forgotten. Worse, many times great ideas get shot down if they didn’t come from someone working at the headquarters.

Amelio told me that they see great ideas come from everyone around the world, so why would they pick one place to have their headquarters? He works out of several offices and does lots of video conferencing. They’ve arranged Lenovo around several innovation hubs/research labs.

Here’s a video I filmed of William at Davos last week where he talks about why they don’t have a headquarters and also shows off several of its new products, one of which won CNet’s “Best of Show” at CES two weeks ago.

I hope to get to follow Amelio around soon to see this interesting company.

Don’t know who Lenovo is? It’s a Chinese owned company that bought the Thinkpad line from IBM several years ago. They still make the best keyboard in the business and are sponsoring the Olympics in Beijing this year.

Shel Israel joins FastCompany.tv

A couple of days ago Shel Israel announced that he was joining FastCompany.tv — the online business and technology video network that I’m heading.

The announcement is true, and I’m excited by what Shel brings to the table. We’re working on several other shows, my goal is to have half a dozen shows by the end of the year, but that’ll depend on getting sponsors, which may be tough in this year of economic turmoil.

Anyway, Shel is the guy who co-authored Naked Conversations (our corporate blogging book — we interviewed 188 businesses about how they were using blogs) with me. Which brings to mind that photo above. Let’s clear this up. We were NOT naked. Just took our shirts off. And that photo was taken in Mike Arrington’s backyard during a TechCrunch party held in honor of our book’s launch.

Some other stories? We argued for at least a month over the book before finding a way we could work together. I still remember pacing around building 119 at Microsoft while getting chewed out by Shel for something or another. One thing I learned from that process, though, is that having people around me who didn’t agree with me made me a better person and brought a lot more value out of me than if I had yes men or women around.

I can’t wait to start work with Shel and get into a good argument with him. Only difference this time? We’ll try to do that on camera since it is pretty entertaining.

If you don’t know who Shel is he’s helped dozens of companies start up in Silicon Valley and used to own his own PR firm. Recently he consulted with tons of startups. Nine of them went onto win Demo God awards (he’s down at Demo right now covering that for Fast Company).

His show will be called “GlobalNeighborhoods TV” and it’ll be interesting to see the conversations he starts on his show and the insights he finds about the new business that’s happening. Welcome Shel!

UPDATE: I should have credited the photo to JD Lasica.

From farts to diamonds

Neil Kane talks with John Gage

At Davos last week I met some remarkable technologists. But one guy who I had never heard of before had an interesting story: his firm turns methane gas into diamonds. Hence my sensationalistic headline of turning farts to diamonds (farts contain mostly methane gas).

The guy is Neil Kane, President of Advanced Diamond Technologies, and that’s him above showing his diamond film that was deposited on a bed of silicon to Sun Microsystems’ lead researcher John Gage.

On the bus ride home from Davos to Zurich he sat next to me and told me how the process works and just how useful it is.

Turns out methane has one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms. If you burn methane you’ll probably get a little soot, which is those carbon atoms showing up. But if you remove the oxygen, throw in a cocktail of a few other secret gasses, and heat it all up you can deposit those carbon items on a starter bed of diamond.

Now, why would they do that?

Well, turns out that diamond has a few interesting properties. We all know it’s the hardest substance around, right? Well, I didn’t know that if you have diamond on two surfaces that it’s among the lowest friction coefficient around, too. Translation: if you coat bearing surfaces with diamond you’ll save energy and the bearings will last a lot longer.

What else are they doing with it? Well, did you know your cell phone has several quartz crystals in it? Why? The crystals vibrate and keep the clock rates all synchronized. Diamond, he tells me, is even better than quartz for that use because it is more highly tunable and energy efficient and can be made to fit in a smaller space than quartz can.

Anyway, it’s great to hear about good old American innovation that’s happening in the midwest (the company is located near Chicago).

And if you think I’m being original with my headline here, I’m not. As they say “farts are a girl’s best friend!”

No, you’re right, that won’t go over well if I try it on Maryam. :-)

U2-3D rocks

Enough said. I saw the movie last night with the Kyte.tv team who are hard at work at a ton of new stuff for that video network. The movie is a great use of 3D and Imax technology. Make sure you see it at an Imax theater. If you don’t like U2 or Bono, though, stay home cause this is a 3D concert experience.