Federal Eye: State Dept. Hosting High-Tech Execs in Iraq

Several executives from well-known high tech firms are in Iraq this week as guests of the State Department, part of an effort to boost the use of online and social media in the war-torn country.

While in Iraq, the tech representatives will meet with government officials, educators and other community leaders to talk about how their technologies can be used to help boost transparency, accountability and anti-corruption efforts. The delegation arrived Sunday and will be in the country through Thursday, according to State Department acting spokesman Robert Wood.

“As Iraqis think about how to integrate new technology as a tool for smart power, we view this as an opportunity to invite American technology industry to be part of this creative genesis,” Wood said during Monday’s daily press briefing.

Among those traveling as part of the first-of-its-kind delegation is Twitter chairman and founder Jack Dorsey.

“The embassy has yoga classes. And belly dancing,” Dorsey tweets, in reference to the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

“Cell phone usage here is massive and the velocity is increasing,” he adds. “17.5 million mobiles. 85% penetration. The infrastructure is overwhelmed. Only 0.06% Internet penetration.” (You can also follow the action on Dorsey’s Flickr feed.)

Richard Robbins, AT&T’s director of social innovation, is also along for the trip and quoted/tweeted Iraq’s deputy prime minister: “The only way I can get through cabinet meetings that are long and boring is looking at my iPhone.”

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