15:14 PM

Tech Policy Summit: Kara and the poster boys of social media

Kara Swisher moderated Policy 2.0: Social Media and Government Regulation. This panel had many of the leading poster boys of "Web 2.0 and social media."

Jonathan Abrams, the former Friendster CEO, was there. He is now CEO of Socializr, which is in private beta and which he described as a cross between Friendster and Evite. Also on stage: Jay Adelson, CEO of Digg; Reid Hoffman, president of LinkedIn; and David Sifry, CEO of Technorati.

Ms Swisher kept the conversation rolling and interesting but there was absolutely zero discussion of government regulation and social media!

It became an apt illustration of how little interest there is in government policy among tech companies coming from a top Silicon Valley journalist and the stars of the Web 2.0 movement.

With the topic dismissed, the panel discussed other subjects. Ms Swisher gave Mr Adelson a withering look when she pointed out that Digg profited from posting copyrighted material and was "feeding off of other people's content."  Mr Adelson noted that not a single copyright holder had ever complained about being featured on Digg.

Identity on the Internet was discussed, and Mr Hoffman said  LinkedIn offered a way for others to discover sanctioned information about their identities.

The panel talked a lot about new media and old media. David Sifry of Technorati was very impressive, he came out with some excellent insights, sharing a lot of the points I've made many times about media and blogging. He talked abut how the blogs need big media and vice versa, it is not one versus the other but both together.

I was heartened to see that Mr Sifry raised an issue I've been warning about for nearly two years: as old media's business fortunes decline who will pay for quality journalism?

(I often explain it this way: what happens if the old media dies before the new media learns to walk? We need quality media because media is how society "thinks" it is how it decides how to tackle tough problems, and we have lots of them.)

Mr Sifry noted that the economic models for big media are being torn apart. "What is the future for news? That's the real question, it is essential to democracy."

He even mentioned a favorite example of mine, Bill Keller, editor of the New York Times, saying that online revenues couldn't pay for a fraction of operating costs. For example, the Baghdad bureau costs over $1m/year to operate.

Walt Mossberg spoke up from the audience, stating to the panel that the Web 2.0 generation didn't like to read--especially long, complex articles about important subjects.

Mr Adelson said that his experience was that teenagers were reading a lot more, and tackling long, complex articles because of their Digg involvement.


Please see:

  • Tech Policy Summit: Tech companies have deep pockets and short arms
  • Low turnout for Silicon Valley Tech Policy Summit - do tech companies care about policy?
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