Cisco Public Services Summit 2010

Cisco’s Public Services Summit 2010 brought 200+ public officials together for a couple of days in Stockholm, a five-and-a-half hour train ride to Oslo, and an evening at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert.

The first day I flew in from Qatar. A speedy car whisked me from Stockholm airport to the Sheraton; I arrived just as my session on educational reform began. Surprise, surprise! A participant from Los Angeles was also named James Cross (which is the name in my passport.)

A sumptuous supper with new-found friends was followed by an introduction from Stockholm’s bubbly mayor and a very funny musical group.

Some of us finished the evening with a few bottles of God beer.

On Friday I skipped the keynotes and visited the immense 15th century war ship Vasa. The Vasa capsized in Stockholm harbor in 1625 because of insufficient ballast and was only re-discovered and salvaged in the late 20th century. Because she sunk in brackish water, the Vasa hardly deteriorated during her three centuries under water. This is one impressive ship, a floating advertisement for Gustavus II Adolphus, the Lion of the North.

Following afternoon keynotes from John Chambers (see previous article) and Clay Shirky, we repaired to the Grand Hotel for yet another sumptuous meal. Linda, a classical violinist who had appeared in an episode of Bay Watch entertained us.

Cisco brilliantly planned and executed the overall event. Stirring keynotes were followed by breakouts attended by a couple of dozen people each. The best part was the ride on a private train

. I talked with people in each of the six coaches. We joked and got to know one another. We had the Dunbar number of participants on board. Most people collaborated. Some slept. A few pecked at their laptops.

After after another magnificent dinner, we trooped along an inside corridor to the theatre for the Nobel Peace Prize Concert.

Anne Hathaway and Denzel Washington repeatedly slammed the Chinese government for incarcerating the prizewinner, humanist Liu Xiaobo. One act after another rocked the audience. A frenetic singer named Robyn got things throbbing. A fellow on electric sitar was fantastic. Bollywood dancers exuded energy. Herbie Hancock was masterful. The only downer was the closing a

ct, Barry Manilow, who lip-synced his way through several songs. Barry’s had so many facelifts he hardly looks human.

Then we marched back to the hotel for a party that lasted into the wee hours. Not for me, though. I had to get up and am writing this as I zip along through the Dutch countryside on a high-speed train.