Cisco CEO John Chambers, Senator John McCain and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at D
Somehow the A-Listers let in this Whatever-Lister to the big D- All Things Digital Wall Street Journal conference north of San Diego (Carlsbad).
I got to mingle tonight with the people mingling with Steve Ballmer, John Chambers, Chad Hurley, Martha Stewart, Steve Case and many more at the opening reception. Fortunately some relevance to my attendance was afforded by Senator John McCain's kick-off interview keynote with the WSJ's Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher.
According to the rules of the conference I can't do my typical semi-transcript thing, but I can post some excerpts, more photos and links after the jump...
The first part of the talk with the former Senate Commerce Committee head was about broadband, or the lack thereof in the United States. Mossberg picked up on the same angle that he took at the Tech Policy Summit in February where he declared that "US broadband sucks" and challenged the Senator on what he would do to fix it as president.
McCain said he would try to make everyone aware in my administration how important broadband is and make sure that rules, regulations impediments are removed. He declared that he would increase spectrum and later noted that his "friends" at the National Association of Broadcasters has implemented one of the "greatest scams in American history" with their alleged spectrum grab.
But, bottom line was that the Senator stayed close to his well-trodded party-line of as little regulation as possible is the best regulation. He endorsed Net Neutrality principles, but, citing unintended consequences, he stopped short of endorsing rules to enforce them. (BTW, as familiar as this positioning might be in DC, in talking to folks after the interview, this approach truly confused some of the techies in the crowd.)
After Mossberg continued on the path of praising the technologies abroad and knocking the end product of the current American system, McCain stated strongly that he "would rather have our technology than Korea's technology" and said that he has "every confidence that we will catch up."
He noted a recent meeting at Google where he said he met some of the "best minds in the world". US is the most innovative.
McCain's take on patent reform drew laughs. He said wouldn't be an issue as a Presidential candidate because he "needs to take on the big things."
Parochial interests were well satisfied when McCain suggested that he would ask both Cisco CEO John Chambers and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to serve in a McCain presidential administration and fulfill a goal to recruit only the best and the brightest. The audience responded in laughs because both Chambers and Ballmer were, of course, in the audience. Plus, with tongue in cheek, McCain suggested that Ballmer would make a great Ambassador to China.
McCain ended his interview with a call-to-action to the crowd asking them for help in "following the money" of Internet child pornography.
It should be noted that after the tech policy conversation ended, the Senator gave an emotional, strong defense to staying in Iraq without self-imposing a deadline. I won't get into the details here because none of it was new, but, suffice to say, that regardless of where you come out on the war or the exit strategy, it was an insightful perspective that I personally appreciated getting at an event where shiny things would be the prevailing talk for the next two days. (Not that there is anything wrong with shiny things. Certainly no one pictured below would think so either.....)
Senator McCain being interviewed by Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher
Walt Mossberg, Senator McCain and Kara Swisher at end of McCain interview
Laughing about Steve Ballmer's future job in Beijing
The New York Times John Markoff and Stern's (Deutschland) Karsten Lemm exchanging more than pleasantries
CNET's Dan Farber in a rare moment without a camera in front of his own to his eye
Esther Dyson and Martha Stewart discussing .TLD policy again
The D crowd
All Things D Live Blog