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Gnomedex – Senator John Edwards

John Edwards is here. Gave about 5 minutes of intro, saying that he’s here to learn, and have a conversation with us. Here are some notes:

  • Dave McClure suggested Edwards read “Wisdom of Crowds”
  • Marc Canter is a “3rd Generation Red Diaper Baby”. He’s looking for “some balls” in supporting Net Neutrality, instead of just voting the party line. Marc is in rare form, as only Marc can be. :-)
  • (Unknown) – When people speak in a human voice, other humans recognize it (Cluetrain). Can Edwards detect in his own voice when he slips into non-human politician speak? Edwards says that politicians are conditions to be plastic and perfect all the time, and that to be human requires shedding that, which is hard. Edwards says he can tell when he “slips into politicospeak”.
  • Shannon Clark – If the democrats want to be successful, they have to focus at the local level. How does Edwards focus on communities, that aren’t necessarily geographically related? Edwards pitches his online community efforts. Shannon wonders how we’re going to deal with districting and representation when people are increasingly “bedouin”, and not geographically tied together.
  • Andrew Cox (in the Cove) – How involved does Edwards think the gov’t should be involved in monitoring the internet, and what’s his opinion on taxing providers like Google? Edwards thinks we should be careful. No spying, but then there are child predators, etc.
  • Alex Williams – Alex sees a “war of language” – the connotation of the word “terrorism”, “PATRIOT Act” etc. How would Edwards “protect” us against this? Edwards sees his job as deciding the right thing to do, and leaving the “language fight” to others.
  • Buzz asked about how Edwards will get over being known as a trial lawyer. Edwards is proud of having been a trial lawyer. Chris injects a plea to get back to the “geek issues”, where we can educate and influence Edwards.
  • Halley Suitt – weblogs were big in the last election. What’s going to be the next technology that makes a difference? Text Messaging? Edwards cites his blogging, podcasting, and video efforts, and how it engages him in conversations. Edwards asks “how to you empower people to generate ideas for improving government?”
  • Brian from WindowsSecrets.com – Rant on abuse of power in monitoring Americans’ calls, financial transactions, in the name of fighting terrorism.
  • (Unknown) – Was the first to take a camera onto Air Force One for a web publication. Encourages Edwards to involve the bloggers and geeks – Edwards asks how? Give a seat on his bus to some bloggers to tag along, and comment on it.
  • Ryan (?) – What challenges does Edwards face educating people about the important issues? Edwards says “top down kills engagement”. It was suggested to take a “reality TV” approach – call Simon Cowell. 😉
  • Phil Torrone – Voting machines should give us a paper record when we vote, and the source code of voting machines needs to be available. If an ATM can do a secure transaction with a paper reciept, why can’t voting machines?
  • JD Lasica – Poverty – Tech conferences are about distributed intelligence. Can we get some kind of ongoing forum to discuss these issues? Edwards very supportive of that idea. What about a wiki?
  • Steve Gillmor – How could Edwards approach the tech problems in a similar vein as being an “attack dog” trial lawyer? Edwards talks about being persuasive, and the ability to talk to people and make them understand your point.
  • (Unknown) – There is already a structure to get around “top down” – it’s called local government.

Interesting session. I’m not into politics much at all, but Edwards was a friendly and interesting presenter. Expect lots of discussion in the blogosphere about this one, but this will probably be the last you hear of it from me.

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