A tech show for government applications

By Steven Overly
Monday, January 17, 2011

Mere days after thousands flocked to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, a considerably smaller and more subdued tech crowd convened in Washington.

The annual Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee technology exhibition brought out about two dozen companies to highlight emerging technologies that have government applications or personify policy debates that Congress is likely to tackle.

Research in Motion was on hand with its BlackBerry PlayBook, a tablet device that should appear on shelves early this year. The company's federal government director, Larry Silver, called Washington a ripe market; the town is dominated by BlackBerry smartphones, particularly on Capitol Hill. Silver said he's already in talks with several agencies, though he would not disclose them.

Across the room on the ninth floor of the Hart Senate Office Building, Michael Hagan was peddling a different kind of product. He said a palm scanner developed by his father's Sioux Falls, S.D., company can reduce Medicare and Medicaid fraud by identifying patients and the services they're eligible to receive.

Not every table cradled a tech toy for officials to see. Yahoo was there to highlight its privacy settings that allow users to control their data. As lawmakers mull over consumer Internet protections this session, Yahoo likely wants to be front of mind.

"Consumers who don't want their data used in that way should have a way to say no," said Leslie Dunlap, senior director of government relations, after demonstrating how consumers can opt out of certain targeted advertisements. "We're trying to be very transparent with consumers."

Cypes to Clearspring

Another AOLer has left the company's Dulles campus for McLean-based Clearspring, a content sharing company that connects publishers and advertisers to audiences via social networks. This time Greg Cypes, who previously worked on AOL Instant Messenger and Lifestream, joins the firm.

Cypes serves as director of product for the company's AddThis platform, a system that helps people share content. He joins AOL expatriates Peggy Fry, the chief revenue officer, and Robert Van Niman, the senior vice president of finance. Other AOL connections: Ted Leonisis serves as Clearspring's chairman and Steve Case is an investor.

The Download caught up with Cypes a week into the new role. Here's what he had to say:

How has the way audiences get content changed?

They are actually getting it now through all these different social channels [such as Facebook and Twitter] and that's a huge change that's evolving every day. One of the things I see happening over time is this idea that what's being shared becomes more relevant to you as the viewer.

AOL is trying to reinvent itself now. What are your thoughts on that effort?

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