Tag Archives: politics

Who should be USA’s CTO?

UPDATE: The video that caused this post is now up on FastCompanyTV.

Today I visited Larry Lessig. He’s the founder of Creative Commons. A professor of law at Stanford University. And does many other things.

He is one of those guys who is just interesting to talk to. Why? Whip smart and has a view of things that very few other people have.

On the way over to the interview I kept thinking back to our Washington DC visit. Both Republicans and Democrats told me they wish there were someone in the White House that they could talk to about tech and science issues. That seemed to support Barack Obama’s tech policy, which calls for a national CTO position.

There are two views of the CTO position and Larry laid out both views in his interview and explained why he didn’t want the job (which, personally, is the best reason to want him in the position).

View #1 is a person who could help shape our nation’s tech policies. This person would need to be a great speaker, because he or she would need to go to places like the World Economic Forum and communicate what our tech policy should be. She or he would also need to be up to date on law, since they would be talking with congress about what could or couldn’t be done and would help shape policies and laws. She or he would also need to be both trusted and accessible to the tech industry, too.

That sounds like Lessig would be a perfect candidate.

But he laid out the other view of what a national CTO should do and explained why he wouldn’t be a good choice. That view is: be a traditional CTO and get more of our government to use technology to be more efficient and transparent. Lessig is much more interested in seeing a CTO take on that role and says for that role you’d need a geek who understands the technology.

That got me thinking. If you were the next President, and you wanted to have a national CTO role, who would you put into that position?

Here’s a few names to get you thinking:

Mark Andreessen?
Dave Winer?
Joel Spolsky?
Tantek Celik?
Molly Holzschalg?
Meg Whitman?
Bill Gates?
Steve Wozniak?
Caterina Fake?

Overall, though, I still like the idea of Lessig in the White House.

Oh, and wait until you hear what he says about how he’d retard corruption in the Capitol. The interview will be up in a couple of weeks on FastCompanyTV.

Front-row seat to John Edwards sex scandal

Rielle Hunter sitting next to him)

I had no idea that when former Senator John Edwards invited me to come along on his plane back in December of 2006 that I would have had a front-row seat to a sex scandal. John Edwards today admitted he had an affair with Rielle Hunter back in 2006.

I, along with a few other journalists I had a front-row seat and have some of the only photos of Hunter.

See, stuff like this always seems to happen to “other people.” People you don’t know. Never have met. Don’t care about.

In this case, though, my wife, Maryam, interviewed Elizabeth Edwards. I interviewed John and sat next to Hunter. All while not having any clue about the secret they were all keeping.

It reminds me that as a blogger/journalist I have to always capture images, not knowing what the real story actually will turn out being. And always keep looking beyond what I was being presented.

The photo above is Hunter sitting next to Edwards. I never saw them behave inappropriately in front of me and Edwards let me hang out with him nearly around the clock.

There are lots of stories on Google News. Personally, my thoughts go out to everyone involved.

Here’s all my photos of the trip with John Edwards where he announced he was running for President of the United States. Unfortunately the videos I shot are gone, PodTech pulled them down and I don’t have the copyright on those, so can’t repost them.

Here’s my photo of Hunter:

Edwards' videoblogger - Reille Hunter

My Fourth of July Present to you: the geeky Congresswoman

Get in a patriotic mood by listening to our conversation with Zoe Lofgren, the world’s geekiest politician (she’s a Congresswoman from Silicon Valley). This is part of our trip to Washington DC.

“We’re boring,” she said, when I noted that Andrew Feinberg chastized me and other tech bloggers for not going to Washington DC more often (Andrew runs the Capitol Valley blog and setup these interviews for me).

After that bit of joking around we got into broadband policy, network neutrality, immigration policy, R&D incentives, and she tells us what geeks should pay attention to in the political world of Washington DC.

Enjoy, and enjoy the Fourth of July with your families. For those of you who aren’t Americans, see ya on Saturday.

Some notable things she said: “it’s ridiculous,” she said, that we’re increasing our prosecution of nannies and decreasing our prosecution of organized crime.

She advocated for a chief technology officer and decried that there are still lots of pieces of the government that are still working on paper.

Regarding advertising, she admitted that the technology is moving faster than Congress can move.

Thank you to Seagate, producers of great storage devices, for sponsoring this show, which makes it possible for us to bring stuff like this to you.

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.

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.

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.