Wednesday, February 1, 2006


Great clip of an interview with Esther Dyson from

@ SIIA Info Industry Summit

Safe to say Esther Dyson spoke some truth to power about users and control, telling attendees that not all user contributions are equal and not all users deserve equal consideration. She said too many companies are rushing in, not realizing how difficult building and operating community can be. She added, "The best check on bad behavior is identity." Meeting with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, he told her: "The most important thing we do is set the rules."

-- On a different front, asked by interviewer David Kirkpatrick to identify the most interesting platform, she responded: "The most interesting platform isn't the internet; it's the cellphone." Kirkpatrick followed by asking if that was the same thing as saying the internet on a cellphone? Dyson: "The intertnet connects all this stuff. The internet is kind of the metaplatform but beyond that the cellphone is probably going to the mediating devuice in many markets." Rich media needs aren't likely to be served as well on a cell phone but real-time information is another story.

-- Asked about Google, Dyson said Yahoo gets "short shrift" and desrerves to be mentioned with Google. (She owns some friend-and-family shares in Google but has invested in two companies -- flickr and -- sold to Yahoo.) Her take: Yahoo is "intelligent design"; Google is "blind evolution." I had this backwards at first; thanks John and Jane for setting me straight.

I finally had time to listen to the audio so here's a more detailed version: "Google is blind evolution. They have this ... users-in-charge, bubble-up philosophy. Their employees can come up with ideas. There's this kind of Darwinian internal selection process. ? They have a very clear vision; they're not quite north to the North Pole. They're going west, they're going forward but they're blind evolution; they don't really see where they're going. Neither do we.

Yahoo, on the other hand, is intelligent design. They have the vision of what they're trying to build ? . Two very, very different models. The other thing that's really different is Google sees communication as a medium for the distribution of information. ? Whereas Yahoo, they see information as a medium of communication among people. They get people. They get communities and individuals in a way that Google really doesn't. Google is blindingly clever. ? You have very, very different models of the world. I like them both, and think they will both persist." (audio download)

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