This week I am lucky enough to be in New York with 21 British companies who are taking part in Digitial Mission 08. We are hitting the Web 2.0 Expo tomorrow and have already been furiously networking with New York's techno-, digi- and glitterati - and sacrificing our livers for the cause of British exports. You can find out more on the Chinwag Blog, or follow @digitalmission on Twitter for more stories from the front line.
Digital Mission has been promoted by UKTI and has direct support from Tom Watson MP, junior Cabinet Office Minister and notable political blogger and twitterer.
I was pleased to have a chance to meet Tom before the Mission got properly underway, having got to NYC a few hours before the main group, a few of us headed to the rooftop bar at the Hudson Hotel and downed one or two beers whilst admiring the sparkling city above and beneath us. Anyone interested in the power of Web 2.0 - not just social networking, but better web applications - to improve government and society should be reassured that someone like Tom is in government and trying to do something with this revolutionary technology. His enthusiasm in describing the project which resulted in the excellent web service for car tax discs online - or his excitement at having met Clay Shirky earlier that day- is truly refreshing- even for a "raging Tory" such as me.
The fact that he engenders such loathing amongst the Tory blogosphere (take this example from Iain Dale - particularly the comments) is no doubt because he is capable of being an old school political bruiser - and could certainly pass for a nightclub bouncer. These skills are probably highly valued by Gordon Brown who apparently calls him at all sorts of anti-social hours, and have resulted in his "enforcer" role in government. But, he is clearly very bright and passionate about good government in a way that transcends party politics - there is nothing right or left wing about Web 2.0 in government - and for that I am glad he is in a position of influence. Not to say of course, that I will not hesitate to help the Tories depose him and the rest of the sorry lot currently in power... funny thing politics.