Internet Week Kicks Off With Speech From New York Senator Chuck Schumer


During a question and answer session at Internet Week New York this morning, Senator Chuck Schumer quipped that he was of “the older generation.” And even as Schumer looked forward in his keynote speech, which kicked off IWNY at its headquarters in the Metropolitan Pavilion, he made his age hard to forget.

With an AOL backdrop featuring drawings of donuts behind him, Schumer discussed his goal of boosting New York to the forefront of the nation’s high tech centers, one day beating Silicon Valley. He announced the creation of a “working group” with the mayor, the governor and New York industry leaders with the aim of making that technology talking point a reality.

The bike-riding Senator outlined the strategies that will help New York grow in this area. Young people’s continued migration to the city, he explained, is tops, and what do young people like? Concerts in Brooklyn.

“I was riding one Sunday and I saw long lines of people in Williamsburg,” he began to explain. “What was it? There were these concerts! Called the Jelly Pool Concerts that had hip artists that my daughters were acquainting me with at the same time and there were thousands of people who came to those, and they met each other and they became friends, I dare say there are couples together because of those concerts. They came together in New York, they are staying in New York. It’s part of the glue about New York.”

Beyond a desire to attract fans of indie bands, Schumer also outlined advances in biotech, education, immigration and energy that he says need to happen. He mentioned his bill that would give green cards to international students who study math, science, technology and engineering at the PhD, masters and possibly bachelor’s levels.

Anachronism was in the air at the Pavilion. In addition to the technicolor company enclaves with free giveaways — Yahoo! was overwhelmingly purple and had purple earbuds for the taking — there was a central exhibit featuring old school computers loaded with websites from corresponding time periods. Next to each computer in the Digital Archeology exhibit were equally-out-of-date gadgets and issues of “Wired.” Titanic VHS, anyone?

Curator of the exhibit, Jim Boulton of Story Worldwide, told us that he believes eventually websites will also cease to exist.

“I think we’re in real danger of losing our recent history, so that’s why the show’s on, to raise the profile of archiving websites, and also to pay homage to pay homage to these young creative people over the last 15 years who have really defined modern culture,” he said.

But of course, for all the nods to the past, current and future trends were the main focus on 18th Street. There was even a notable lack of paper products circulating.

Schumer, naturally, was asked about social media in the Senate. He explained that when he first entered the House he was considered an “expert” in television. Now, although he has more than 12,000 Twitter followers, his technological knowledge is surpassed.

“I don’t tweet that much myself, because I’m just busy, but I have a staff guy who follows me around and I tell him what to say and he does it,” he said. Adding later, “I think senators and congressmen who aren’t aware of social media and don’t utilize it do so at their peril.”

But when a reporter asked him later to comment on Congressman Anthony Weiner’s Twitter fiasco, Schumer declined.

Internet Week runs through June 13.