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Al Gore Joins the Lineup At Web 2 Summit

By - August 07, 2008

Ag Headshot-1

Those of you following my posts around the theme of this year’s Web 2 Summit already know that we’re expanding the scope of the conference this year, and asking a core question: How can we apply the lessons of the Web to the world at large? From my post outlining the theme:

As we convene the fifth annual Web 2.0 Summit, our world is fraught with problems that engineers might charitably classify as NP hard—from roiling financial markets to global warming, failing healthcare systems to intractable religious wars. In short, it seems as if many of our most complex systems are reaching their limits.

It strikes us that the Web might teach us new ways to address these limits. From harnessing collective intelligence to a bias toward open systems, the Web’s greatest inventions are, at their core, social movements. To that end, we’re expanding our program this year to include leaders in the fields of healthcare, genetics, finance, global business, and yes, even politics.

Increasingly, the leaders of the Internet economy are turning their attention to the world outside our industry. And conversely, the best minds of our generation are turning to the Web for solutions. At the fifth annual Web 2.0 Summit, we’ll endeavor to bring these groups together.

To my mind, no person better exemplifies the merging of these two worlds than former Vice President (and Nobel laureate) Al Gore, the Chairman of Current TV. Gore and CEO Joel Hyatt started Current as “a new breed of media company that works with its young adult audience to create media that informs, enriches and inspires,” by integrating online and offline media, a very Web Meets World endeavor indeed. Readers may recall that Gore recently joined Kleiner Perkins as a partner focused on green issues, as well. And we are very pleased to announce that VP Gore will be joining us at the Web 2 Summit this year.

Others joining VP Gore include Elon Musk, of PayPal, Tesla, SolarCity and SpaceX, Larry Brilliant, the head of the Google.org foundation, and Michael Pollan, author of many wonderful books on our relationship to food, including my favorite: The Botany of Desire. The full lineup is truly wonderful, and we’re still adding speakers.

Requests for invitations can be found here, this is going to be one special event.

What Are Community Standards?

By - June 24, 2008

Is it what people say they value publicly, or what they search for in the privacy of their home? Man, that’s a tricky one.



In the trial of a pornographic Web site operator, the defense plans to show that residents of Pensacola are more likely to use Google to search for terms like “orgy” than for “apple pie” or “watermelon.” The publicly accessible data is vague in that it does not specify how many people are searching for the terms, just their relative popularity over time. But the defense lawyer, Lawrence Walters, is arguing that the evidence is sufficient to demonstrate that interest in the sexual subjects exceeds that of more mainstream topics — and that by extension, the sexual material distributed by his client is not outside the norm.

Every Great Business Is An Argument

By - June 18, 2008

That’s the title of my latest post for Amex’s Open Forum Blog. From it:

In my experience starting businesses, and in my study of other businesses that have succeeded wildly (like Apple, Google, or eBay), every great business is founded in a thesis, a statement of what should be true. It’s then the business’s job to go prove that thesis – in essence, the business becomes the argument that proves the thesis.



Read the rest and tell me what you think at the Amex blog…

Google: Making Nick Carr Stupid, But It's Made This Guy Smarter

By - June 10, 2008

Hal-1

I will admit, I was entirely biased upon reading this story from Nick Carr, who has a knack for writing pieces that get a lot of attention by baiting his hook with contrarian link chum. Heck, he’s really good at it, and I have a lot of respect for Nick. So I’ll take the bait.

His piece starts by conjuring HAL, the famous AI which manipulates humans, then makes his case by citing his own “feeling” that Google has changed his attention span to somehow prove that search and web browsing in general is making us stupid.

Balderdash. What Carr is really saying is this: People are not reading long narrative anymore, and that makes me and my pals sad. So let’s blame the Internet!

Sounds an awful lot like the complaints we heard about TV making us stupid. Did TV make us stupid? I dunno, ask Steven Johnson. I bet he has an opinion on this piece as well.

Carr writes: “Yet, for all that’s been written about the Net, there’s been little consideration of how, exactly, it’s reprogramming us. The Net’s intellectual ethic remains obscure.”

So because Nick hasn’t come up with a singular thesis as to what the “Net’s intellectual ethic” is, we must declare it’s making us stupid, eh?

Huh. He goes on to claim that Google is, in essence, an industrial style factory driven by a philosophy that is mechanizing our collective intellect much like factory automation mechanized our collective workforce – in short, Google is turn our minds into nothing more than collective cogs in some borg like hive mind. We’re fucked, and it’s all Google’s fault.



Puuuuuuuhhhhleezzze.



Here’s another quote: “The last thing these companies want is to encourage leisurely reading or slow, concentrated thought. It’s in their economic interest to drive us to distraction.”

Right. And that’s why Google encourages its workers to spend 20% of their time on passion projects. OK.

His conclusion: “As we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence.”

Good lord. Somehow Carr seems to presume that there’s simply nothing valuable occurring in our minds when we engage with the extraordinary new medium of the web. Because we’re starting to think in different ways, it must be bad. Right? Carr may believe that search and the Internet make us stupid, but I will counter his personal, anecdote-driven conclusions with one of my own: when I am deep in search for knowledge on the web, jumping from link to link, reading deeply in one moment, skimming hundreds of links the next, when I am pulling back to formulate and reformulate queries and devouring new connections as quickly as Google and the Web can serve them up, when I am performing bricolage in real time over the course of hours, I am “feeling” my brain light up, I and “feeling” like I’m getting smarter. A lot smarter, and in a way that only a human can be smarter.

And I have a feeling I’m not alone. What do you guys think?

Speaking of the CM Summit…

By -

Cms Nyc

My director of events, Stacey Foreman, tells me we have exactly 25 tickets left for the CM Summit in NYC. Now, we are only letting 350 folks in, and we’ve been selling about 20 tickets a day over the past week. So…while I am inclined to push the fire marshal’s tolerance, Stacey is not. If you want a ticket, I’d suggest you go for it asap. I’m really excited not only by the lineup, but by the chance to gather in an intimate environment and really contemplate some of the bigger issues facing the marketing world in the age of conversational media. It’s going to be really, really fun.

Initial Web 2 Summit Lineup Up, Registration Is Open

By - May 28, 2008

Web2Newlogo

My partners at Web 2 told me today that the new website is live, the initial theme is up and posted (I am very excited about this year’s theme) and if you haven’t gone before, you can request an invitation to come here. Last year we had nearly 10,000 requests for an invitation, so if you want to come (Nov. 5-7 in SF) please fill out the form asap. I review each request personally.

The first line of speakers is also up, and there is a lot more cooking. Initial speakers include Jack Ma, Anne Wojcicki, Mark Zuckerberg, Marc Andreessen, Ken Auletta,

Richard Rosenblatt, Lance Armstrong, Ralph De la Vega, Paul Otellini, Mary Meeker, Padmasree Warrior, Kevin Johnson, Joel Hyatt, Mathis Wackernagel, Marc Benioff and Vinod Khosla.

From the theme:

The Opportunity of Limits:

Sustaining, Applying and Expanding the Web’s Lessons

The commercial web is now a teenager—it’s been fifteen short years since Marc Andreessen released the Mosaic browser. To put this in perspective, television as a commercial medium reached its fifteenth birthday in 1956—the year Elvis Presley made his first appearance on national TV. National news broadcasts were still in their infancy, “As The World Turns” debuted as America’s first half-hour soap opera, and “The Price Is Right” began its dominance of the game show genre. Commercial grade videotape recorders emerged, portable black and white television sets were introduced, and the first local color broadcast aired in Chicago.

Fifteen years after television’s birth, the contours of the new medium were just emerging. The idea that this revolutionary new phenomenon—one busily reshaping the very fabric of society—might one day become just another application on a vast web of computers, well that idea wasn’t exactly in vogue.

In the first four years of the Web 2.0 Summit, we’ve focused on our industry’s challenges and opportunities, highlighting in particular the business models and leaders driving the Internet economy. But as we pondered the theme for this year, one clear signal has emerged: our conversation is no longer just about the Web. Now is the time to ask how the Web—its technologies, its values, and its culture—might be tapped to address the world’s most pressing limits. Or put another way—and in the true spirit of the Internet entrepreneur—its most pressing opportunities.

As we convene the fifth annual Web 2.0 Summit, our world is fraught with problems that engineers might charitably classify as NP hard—from roiling financial markets to global warming, failing healthcare systems to intractable religious wars. In short, it seems as if many of our most complex systems are reaching their limits.

It strikes us that the Web might teach us new ways to address these limits. From harnessing collective intelligence to a bias toward open systems, the Web’s greatest inventions are, at their core, social movements. To that end, we’re expanding our program this year to include leaders in the fields of healthcare, genetics, finance, global business, and yes, even politics.

Increasingly, the leaders of the Internet economy are turning their attention to the world outside our industry. And conversely, the best minds of our generation are turning to the Web for solutions. At the fifth annual Web 2.0 Summit, we’ll endeavor to bring these groups together.

I can’t wait for this year, it’s going to be great! And there is a lot of room for speakers still, in particular with an eye toward this theme. Please make your suggestions in comments here. Help me make this as good as it can be! Thanks.