You thought "Avatar" was long? James Cameron joked that his next movie may stretch to five hours.
Speaking on stage at the CTIA conference in Las Vegas, the filmmaker said that the only thing holding back the same kind of widespread piracy that decimated the music industry in the film industry is that it takes a long time to download high-quality copies of movies. He jokingly said that his strategy is to make longer and longer movies as a way to fight piracy.
Cameron sat on a panel discussion with Biz Stone, Twitter's founder, and Aneesh Chopra, the U.S. chief technology officer. They discussed a wide range of topics including ways that the use of Twitter on low-cost mobile phones leads to social change, the possibility of future phones displaying 3-D content and ways that the government can harness the latest technology trends.
"When a farmer in a rural village in a Third World nation can get the simplest of news over SMS, a weather report or whatever, it can have a dramatic impact," Stone said. "We're always excited that Twitter can work as effectively over SMS than over a fancy broadband connection in New York City."
He pointed to some situations where people have used Twitter to organize protests and report on governmental abuses. "The fact that we're allowing people to communicate with each other openly can have a positive and dramatic impact," he said. "You raise awareness halfway around the world and in doing so create a bit of empathy, and when you do that you have more of a sense of yourself as a global citizen. When you have that we're moving forward. That's what's exciting."
CNBC reporter Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, who moderated the conversation, said that in her coverage of Latin America she discovered one such instance of global empathy via Twitter. She said that she noticed a lot of sympathy between the people of Venezuela and Iran via their Twitter messages, she said.
She asked Stone if he thought Twitter has the power to topple an authoritarian regime. He laughed but said, "I think if you enable people to communicate, they're capable of anything."
He jokingly said that the future of Twitter is 3-D messages.
That might not be too far off if Cameron has his way. Following the buzz around 3-D televisions at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, he said that laptops and mobile phones are next. One upside to doing 3-D on a screen as small as a cell phone is that a user doesn't have to wear glasses to see the 3-D special effects, he said.
While Cameron was joking when he said that he planned to make longer and longer movies, he did say that his move to 3-D was also designed as a way to fight piracy. "Our thing is, let's reinvigorate the cinema experience because you can't fight this," he said about piracy. If people have a reason to watch a movie in the theater, they will. But he also said that he learned something interesting with "Avatar." The movie became both the highest-grossing and also the most pirated film in history, meaning that people still wanted to watch it at home. "That means that people are discriminating between the two experiences and they want both," he said.
While Chopra didn't say much about how the government might use Twitter or 3-D, he did say that it is trying to figure out ways to use the latest technologies. There are grassroots ways that people use technologies like Twitter and then there are traditional tools of diplomacy used by governments. The Obama administration is looking at ways to marry the two, he said.
One example is a project that the U.S. is working on with Russia to establish a collaboration platform between the two governments, he said. The idea is "to enable more of this grassroots connectivity," he said.