At CTIA: Twitter, Avatar & Obama’s CTO Take Stage
The CTIA Wireless 2010 keynotes came to a close in Las Vegas yesterday with an unlikely roundtable discussion that featured movie director James Cameron, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone and Aneesh Chopra, chief technology officer of the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy. The panel was moderated by CNBC anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera.
Given the participants’ diverse backgrounds, the conversation covered a variety of topics, from the effectiveness of Twitter as a tool of social activism to Cameron’s feeling about the Oscars.
Caruso-Cabrera started things off by asking Cameron why he was asked to address a CTIA audience. Cameron admitted there might be a slight stretch there but added that the content he produces is very much relevant to every size screen out there.
“The way we communicate and the way we interact is all through screens,” Cameron said, adding that even 3D content is possible on a smartphone. Cameron said that 3D without glasses is possible so long as the screen is small enough.
While the topic of 3D was interesting, Stone was brought into the conversation with remarks about the power of SMS to create and connect communities that are working toward a common cause. “One of the things that has inspired us from the beginning is the ubiquitous, lowest common denominator technology of SMS,” Stone said, adding that SMS can reach even feature phone users in emerging markets that probably don’t have access to a computer but do have a mobile phone.
“We’re the facilitators of this open exchange of information,” Stone said. “We just have to keep the service running and let people do their thing.”
Chopra dodged a few questions regarding the FCC’s move to net neutrality but was forthright about President Barack Obama’s commitment to a free and open Internet. Like Stone, he agreed that wireless can be a great tool for solving the many problems facing modern societies.
On the healthcare front, Chopra cited the recently launched Text4Baby campaign, an SMS-based program that offers new moms information about pregnancy and caring for a newborn. Chopra said that while many of the women who use the service may not have access to a doctor, they do have access to a mobile phone, making SMS an ideal delivery method for the service. He said that in it first month, the service saw 25,000 subscribers.
In the end, the resounding opinion seemed to be that a healthy wireless industry (particularly one with limited regulation) is good for everyone. “If we get this right, we can find a way to collaborate the public and private sector that doesn’t require a lot of complexity,” Chopra said.
As an interesting question to close the session, Cameron was asked how he felt about not receiving the Oscar for this year’s Best Picture. Cameron was cordial, saying he wasn’t as disappointed as one might think. Cameron said if given the choice between the Oscar trophy and the $2.6 billion in box office revenue that Avatar has amassed, he’d take the $2.6 billion.