White House CTO Aneesh Chopra Gives Speech, Tries Out Palm Pre
President Obama may have ushered in the era of the BlackBerry at the White House, but plenty of folks who work for him use iPhones on the side. "The White House is officially BlackBerry, though many folks also own iPhones," said Aneesh Chopra, the first-ever Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Director for Technology in the White House Office of Science and Technology (yes, that's his official title).
Just two weeks into the job, Chopra made a public appearance as the keynote speaker at this week's CEA Line Shows and Digital Downtown conference, a sort of mini-CES held earlier this week (on Thursday) just around the corner from the Empire State Building in New York City. In his speech, Chopra outlined "four pillars," which essentially boiled down to using innovative technology to create jobs, carry-out Obama's initiatives on health care and education, create a national broadband network that's safe and secure, and facilitate a more open government (for more info on that go to www.whitehouse.gov/open).
But back to phone usage, Chopra indulged us with his own cell phone habits. "I use the BlackBerry for work and my personal phone is an iPhone," he told us. "The iPhone is not connected to any White House network, though." (That's a good thing, we wouldn't want any sensitive government information getting into the wrong hands.) So, what apps does one of Obama's most tech-savvy employees use? Mostly sensible stuff -- mortgage apps ("we were recently shopping around for a house," he says), Facebook ("to communicate with my wife and family"), the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Wolfram Alpha (the currently hot answer search engine).
Now, we thought that one of Obama's tech dudes would have had first dibs (and hands) on the Palm Pre, but turns out we had one before he did, and so were plenty stoked to hand our review unit to him for some first impressions.
"How are the apps?" he asked, since trying any of them out -- much less figuring out how to use the thing initially -- isn't too easy when you're surrounded by a gaggle of gadget and technology reporters. Unfortunately, we didn't have much to say back, since there are only a couple dozen at the moment for the Pre, though a new one seems to pop up every day. (We do like the just released Pre version of Evernote, though, and Flixster).
Well, maybe Palm will do the right thing and send one over to him so he can get to integrating the full gamut of smartphones into the open government initative (and maybe get some White House folks to go Palm in their private time). The smartphone boom is only just getting started (who knows -- maybe we'll all be working for smartphone-related businesses some day).