Can the CEO of the world's most powerful Internet company corporate underwrite an "open" conference touting "Personal Democracy," acquire keynote rights to address attendees on the importance of "communication" and "transparency," AND then take questions from the audience, EXCEPT for questions from those in attendance who also happen to be members of the press, AND keep a straight face all the while?
NO, in fact. The facts did just transpire as I report straight from the Personal Democracy Forum underway in downtown Manhattan, BUT Schmidt was unable to keep a straight face. I know, I was in the first row, directly in front of the Google CEO, and I believe he may just have had a subtle Googley wink in my direction.
In his keynote, Schmidt pushed all the "right" politically correct buttons:
Do not shut down communication, Enable democratic expression 18 months ago we made a decision to be more transparent, We use YouTube to document what we are doing, Criticism is healthy.
Right out of Schmidt's Q & A gate, however, the stage was set so that "only paid attendees" would be given a microphone!
(Not so shy Jeff Jarvis, however, was not to be deterred.)
Immediately prior to Schmidt's keynote, Larry Lessig happily opened up a Q & A to attendees, ALL attendees, paid or unpaid, press or amateur, citizen or not.
What were Schmidt's undemocratic motivations at the Personal Democracy Forum that hails the banner "Sponsored by Google." Why did the Google CEO instruct conference organizers to muzzle communication?
If Google REALLY only wanted to allow questions from "paid," as opposed to "unpaid" attendees, then personal democratic communication is in fact for sale, to those that "buy" the right via a conference "paid" admission.
BUT, the real truth behind the unfortunately typical Google double speak is that Google's Schmidt did not want questions from the PRESS!
Media, of course, conveniently for the Google spin, do not "pay" for the privilege of being able to attend such conferences in order to to do their jobs. If Schmidt had asserted no questions from the press, he at least would have been honest about his intentions.
But no, Schmidt racked up two communication hypocrisies "for the price of one."
Earlier this week, Google also demonstrated its communications hypocricy in NYC, at the Goolgeplex.
Readers of this Digital Markets Blog know I have been a regular attendee at Google's NYC Speaker Series, begun this year. The first event featured a talk by Vice President Adam Bosworth, and was open to all, with no restrictions what so ever.
See my coverage: Google’s Adam Bosworth to NYC technologists: Speed rules.
I enjoyed the opportunity to chat personally with Bosworth, as our photo from the event, at the end of this post, clearly illustrates.
I also attended the second installment in the series, a talk by Luiz Barroso, as I report in Google challenges NYC software engineers. At the Barroso event, the Google organizers expressed their appreciation to me for my reporting of their inaugural event, the Bosworth presentation.
In Google goes Down Under: G’day Google! I commend Google for its reach out efforts. I wrote:
Google is always a gracious host at its engineering open houses. I have enjoyed the Google engineering hospitality at the NYC Googleplex.
Such Google hospitality, however, is a thing of the past, big time.
The third NYC Speaker Series Google event was scheduled for this past Wednesday and I received an email invitation direct from Google to attend and hear Chris DiBono talk about Open Source at Google.
Upon receipt of the Google invitation, I clicked on the RSVP link and was taken to a standard RSVP form which also included the phrase "Press RSVP Here."
When I dutifully clicked on the "Press RSVP", Google responded to the "Event RSVP" they requested from me by saying to the effect, "Thanks for getting in touch, press no longer welcome."
WILL GOOGLE EVER SAY WHAT IT MEANS AND MEAN WHAT IT SAYS, ABOUT ANYTHING?
WILL GOOGLE CEO ERIC SCHMIDT EVER PRACTICE THE PERSONAL DEMOCRACY FORUM THAT HE PREACHED WITH HIS CORPORATION'S BILLIONS?