American in Paris Tech
Nicolas Sarkozy’s e-G8 summit kicked off this morning, Paris time, in big white tents in the Tuileries Gardens off the Rue di Rivoli. It’s supposed to draw an assortment of heavy hitters regarding e-commerce, copyrights and the expansion of web access.
Betabeat was scarfing suacisson when we noticed a robot wandering the main hall, where hundreds of tech industry people, journalists and French politicians stood about, stuffing themselves and chatting.
The robot it turns out belongs to Gostai, a robotics firm in Paris (motto: “Robotics for Everyone!”). They named it Jazz Connect, because the French have always had a real affection for this swinging, American art.
The robot wandering the floor was essentially a big camera, filming the summit in real time and blasting it back to the closed-circuit Gostai website.
This is the sort of thing going about the e-G8 right now: people milling about, noticing curiosities, tentative first conversations. Like dating.
Jarvis vs. Sarkozy
Betabeat caught up with Jeff Jarvis, CUNY professor and one of tech’s true public intellectuals. He recounted his exchange earlier today at a press conference with French President Nicolas “No Sleep Till Tripoli” Sarkozy, the summit’s host.
“I arrived this morning and I had the audacity to be an American asking the president a question. What I said to [Mr. Sarkozy] was that I was glad that he acknowledged that the government does not own the Internet. However, he is attempting to put some controls on the Internet, and I have some fears about that–if this government does it, other governments, such as China and Iran, will do it. My one request for him at the G8 is that they all take a Hippocratic Oath on the Internet: First, do no harm.”
Mr. Sarkozy’s response?
“He mocked that,” Mr. Jarvis said. “He said, ‘When I protect your international property is that harm? When I protect your security or children, is that harm?’ But I wanted to at least get that say in.”
Jimmy Wales: We Got Languages
On a panel at the e-G8 in Paris today, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales talked up his omnipotent site’s power to, um, power languages.
Prompted by a question about Wikipedia’s impact on how people get their information, Mr. Wales claimed that more people are getting more imformation because of his site.
“What might be even more interesting to contemplate is the impact Wikipedia is starting to have on the languages of the developing world,” he said. “We are now in over 200 languages, many of them are still quite small but many of them were picked to be legitimately sized.
“You look at a langauge like Swahili, for example. There has never existed an encyclopedia in Swahili before. Nobody ever bothered to do this before, and now we have over, I think, over 30,000 entries.”
Tom Acitelli is a senior editor at The New York Observer. Follow him on Twitter at tacitelli