How Bloomberg Broke Through the Valley Echo Chamber at D
There were a number of interesting takeaways from the Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital conference this week in lovely Rancho Palos Verdes, California.
But the part that intrigued me the most was NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's addressing the crowd via video interview (due to an unexpected issue that prevented his travel). In his very candid and engaging interview with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, he deftly provided a real person view on the application of technology in government and in everyday life to this audience of tech-obsessed people who can lose sight of the rest of the world's perspective if they only talk with each other.
Following are the top observations I enjoyed. A video capturing highlights is embedded at the end of the post.
Asked about innovation and the use of innovative technology in government, he explained that innovation is based on instinct and government procurement requires specific facts about delivery dates and costs that may not be possible with the latest and newest technology. It makes sense, doesn't it. It isn't that government wants to be a laggard.
He said he reads eight newspapers a day in print. He said when he reads newspapers on the road on a tablet, he still likes the full newspaper view and believes broadsheet presentation has a lot of value. As someone who has struggled reading online articles that require me to page 15 times to read the entire article, sometimes losing the thread entirely, I get his point.
He also said that the changes in publications have caused many reporters to write whatever their favorite source gave them, either because they don't have the resources to research further or don't have the experience to put what they learned into perspective. That plus the 24/7 real-time reporting of every move without analysis or checking, has fundamentally made it very hard for anyone in public life to operate.
He said he likes newspapers because professionals filter what's most valuable for him and if he doesn't like their choices, he can find a paper that he will like more. He said he doesn't really know how to express what he wants to have pushed to him. It's an interesting view that I also can relate to.
He talked about the power of all of the mobile apps, but said that they are great when you have bandwidth at home or at work, but when you are out in a more remote area with your family and you don't have 4G , he doesn't have the patience to wait for something to load. It isn't practical yet.
His take on technology and education was also interesting. Technology in schools is great in its place, he said, but three things still matter more in education: teacher quality, teacher quality, teacher quality. He cautioned the crowd not to focus on the delivery mechanism of education more than on what is being delivered.
Bloomberg said maybe his views reflect his age which, amazingly, is 70. But he isn't anti-technology. He lives and works with it and has built businesses around it. But he doesn't focus on the channel as much as the goal. It was a sobering way to round out a technology soaked conference.