I always knew this Monaco event was going to be a trip, and this evening was no disappointment. During the cocktail reception, I was standing with some friends having a chat, when a handful of muscular men with coiled wires dangling from their ears entered the area, followed by a camera crew, and suddenly we were in the midst of a photo op. This is a really poor photo of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco (center), being introduced by Spencer Reiss of Wired Magazine (left), just before one of his people dashed over to tell me that photos were not allowed. Fortunately, he's not recognizable, so I'm guessing there won't be any repercussions from publishing this.
Tonight was just a chance for everyone to mingle, and it was nice to catch up with my friend Charlie Horrell from PacketVision, Matteo Berlucchi from LiveStation, (which, as a lowly Freeview user with an uncapped broadband account, I watch frequently and love), Niklas Zennstrom and Michael Jackson, and to meet a lot of very interesting new people who are doing very innovative things - with whom I will look forward to following up in coming days.
I think the Chatham House Rules of the event may be fairly draconian, and I will honor them once I find out what they are, but what a fascinating collision between old, entrenched media and hungry freaks this is. As well as the random-bordering-on-surreal. As an indication, we hadn't been in the cocktail reception more than five minutes when a woman walked up and introduced herself very matter-of-factly as Tina Brown. She was very charming and totally unaffected. Later, as the Prince was milling about, a woman drifted by with the surname Cousteau on her nametag, which identified her as the president of the Cousteau Foundation. I shook her hand and said, "Your father was a great childhood hero of mine," and she said, "You're very kind - he was my husband." I was speechless. It was Francine Cousteau. Turns out she is now married to Michael Garin, CEO of Central European Media, one of the delegates at the event.
I'm just a simple boy from Memphis, unaccustomed to this stuff. And it all seems even more surreal and fin-de-siecle given what's going on in the real world. Meanwhile, in the town just above the hotel (albeit via a very steep uphill walk), the Casino (a French supermarket chain) was very quiet earlier this evening, and the few shoppers on hand seemed to be making very careful choices. Plus ca change.