DEMO Europe: Michael McFaul on the Influence of IT on Politics

June 4, 2013, 10:00 keynote

On June 4 the United States Ambassador to Russia spoke during the first European DEMO conference being held at the Digital October Center.

“Many of you probably asked yourselves, ‘And why did they invite him to speak at DEMO?’” began McFaul. “It’s all because I lived in the Silicon Valley for thirty years, and when my ambassadorial mission finishes I plan to go back there.

“As you can understand, I know something about the Valley. For example, about its spirit, which is above any politics. But one thing I didn’t know even a year ago was what Twitter is, although, it turns out, my house in US is right next to their headquarters.

“Today I have 50000 followers on Twitter to go along with 4999 friends and 7000 subscribers on Facebook. Of course, I knew about Zuckerberg and his project earlier, and I had around 200 contacts in that social network, but got to know that you can’t have more than 5000 friends on Facebook only when I started to work as an ambassador in Russia.

“And that’s the point of no return: even conservative politicians can’t ignore the development of technological progress.

Social networks are a great tool for getting feedback from society. Of course, in order to talk with Russians you may take a ride on the Trans-Siberian Railway. But new communication platforms are more effective, actually.

“Mr. McFaul, I follow you on Twitter,” said a DEMO participant to the ambassador. “Will you follow me too? My twitter name is ‘Kkarimov.’”

“Oh, I already know one Karimov — the president of Uzbekistan. No problem!”

“Going back to my speech, I would like to note one more thing. Creative people should learn from each other and share their experiences. Partnership in the area of innovation is an important aspect of our work (take MIT and Skolkovo collaborating, for example), and we will appeal to Russia to give complete freedom to those who are making something creative. Thank you.”


603 show Michael
United Stated Ambassador to Russian Federation


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