When organizers of the 2008 Democratic National Convention came to Microsoft with their technology requests, they were so stuck in 2004. Microsoft's General Manager of Government Solutions, Joel Cherkis, took their "standard" requests for e-mail, IM, Web conferencing and videoconferencing and spiced them up with things like adaptive high-definition video streaming, says Redmondmag. And Surface! Yes, Surface to the people. The touch interface tabletop, in this implementation, will be the convention's "digital concierge," with info on getting from party to party in Denver. It'll also showcase historical documents from the Library of Congress.
Never fear, attendees at the Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities the following weekend will get to gather 'round the Surface, as well. The convention planners also are making sure Microsoft hits all the high points: green tech, virtual tech, secure tech and collaborative tech.
Take a couple of minutes to check out the pictures and videos on the convention Web sites, and think about the amount of preparation and money that goes into the physical setup for each. The Los Angeles Times' Patt Morrison says with the price tag for this year's conventions at over $120 million, we've reached the point where we need the virtual convention. Not virtual workspaces and collaborative tools in addition to stages and meeting rooms and bleacher seats, but instead of all that.
Heck, any gathering of size these days includes giant screens that most participants spend the entire time staring at, anyway. Would a virtual convention be so different? Morrison says there are plenty of winners in this scenario, and a couple of losers. The largest group of the latter would be big-ticket contributors to the conventions (Microsoft and its peers) and lobbyists, who would lose a huge chunk of their concentrated access to candidates and the most engaged constituents. Though Morrison's desire is to sweep the special interests out of the convention arena, eliminating the physical gathering would really just set up Microsoft for a gigantic commercial. Somehow, I think this is an idea that Microsoft would love.
Like in 2004, this year's conventions give Microsoft a huge opportunity to showcase not only its workhorse solutions, but also nifty technology that's still in various stages of development. Get rid of distractions like real balloons and noise and open bars, and there would be no stopping the Party Convention Brought to You by Microsoft.
I'm not ready to join that party.