Let it be said, Vinton Cerf, the ‘father of the internet’, Chief Internet Evangelist of Google, and proponent of the InterPlaNetary Internet, is a really nice guy.
Although it was a hectic day for him, with back-to-back press interviews and an upcoming keynote, Cerf was accommodating, convivial and makes a great interview subject.
In 2003, when I interviewed him for the Star, he was equally nice, even LOL-ing my question on whether astronauts in Mars in the future would be spammed with ads for thermal underwear. Even though, at the time, he was still with MCI Worldcom, I had suggested the headline of this post for the story, which was sort of prescient considering he hadn’t joined Google yet.
This time, we spoke briefly on the InterPlanetary Internet project, the Exaflood, his role in Google as the Chief Internet Evangelist (he dressed the part on the first day), his pet subjects – net neutrality, IPv6 and a small self-financed project to provide solar-powered Internet cafes to the developing world.
Later at the WCIT 2008 keynote in Kuala Lumpur, he entertained the audience with his view of the Internet in 2035 as well as stories from the early days.
One example in his presentation was that of a surfboarder who embedded an Internet-enabled laptop into his surfboard. A simple search for the story turned out ironical. The inventor’s name is Jools Matthews. Cerf, Matthews and the Internet. Crazy.
In a revelatory moment, a jetlagged but relaxed Guy Kawasaki candidly exclaimed that he regarded his four children as his greatest startups.
Speaking at a WCIT 2008 event in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, he came across as an honest, “I hate to travel” family kinda guy — not the predatory venture capitalist you would expect from someone from the Valley.
That hatred for travel way back in the 80s and the refusal to drive two hours to take up the offer of becoming CEO of then unknown and “undefensible” company by the unlikely name of Yahoo! may have cost him the Forbes’ billionaires list. “I had a kid and another in beta…” he says of his “bozo moment” which may explain why Guy still doesn’t ring a bell beyond IT circles, his one claim to fame being an evangelist for the Mac in 1984.
Guy says he has yet to score the big deal that would qualify him as being a successful venture capitalist, and he thinks that as he gets older it all comes down to sheer luck.
On reflection, he doesn’t think he would have invested in Google or eBay and he passed up on a startup that believed “drowning is a growth industry” and sold a roll of redtape as a solution, and now is raking it in.
He amused us with some tales of crazy pitches, said he won’t buy an iPhone until it has 3G and Microsoft Exchange Server on it — highly contradictory after berating Windows machines and Bill Gates’ simultaneous holograpic presentation nearby — and that he wouldn’t take up the Apple CEO position, again because of, you guessed it — his four kids.
One gets the impression that Guy is too much of nice guy to be in the cut-throat VC game.
You can hear the entire presentation below or here:
Increasingly, more of my peers are finding it difficult to relate to the younger people joining the workforce. The consistent rant is about Attitude. The disconnect seems to cut across all industries. The age group is usually those in early to mid 20s. No doubt, they will find the pigeonholing below quite condescending.
In “Why Gen Y Is Going to Change the Web“, Read Write Web’s Sarah Perez has a lengthy but revealing insight into Generation Y aka the Millennials, those born between 1982-1997, “the most digitally active generation yet.”
Here’s the gist:
1. PLUGGED IN: They grew up around PCs, the net, mobile phones, video games, and mp3 players. They are web savvy multitaskers, are able watch TV, surf the web, listen to music, and talk or text on their phones, often performing several of these things at the same time.
2. TV ISN’T KING: Although you’ll find some Gen Y’ers obsessing over the latest episode of “The Hills,” and other shows, they aren’t watching TV as much as other generations do. They rather time-shift, download and watch episodes on their own terms. Gen Y’ers rather spend time using their Xboxes and Wiis even it cuts into TV viewing. For them, TV is often just “background noise”.
3.DON’T CARE ABOUT ADS, ONLY WHAT THEIR FRIENDS THINK: Because they are immersed in media, and marketed to constantly, they’re distrusting of ads. Instead, they respond to “humor, irony, and the unvarnished truth.” But when it comes to making decisions, they’re more likely to rely on their network of friends and their recommendations.
Gen Y doesn’t have brand loyalty, however – they’re quick to move the next big thing.
4. WORK ISN’T THEIR WHOLE WORLD: They’re going to go to work, but it had better be fun. For Gen Y, work isn’t their identity. They’re also not going to blindly follow orders just because you’re the boss. “Generation Why?” needs “buy in”.
Gen Y wants companies to be more accommodating, offering the ability to work from anywhere, flexi-time, a culture that supports team communication, and a “fun” work environment. Old school bosses may need this survival guide.
5. THEY’RE SOCIALLY CONSCIOUS: Gen Y cares about the world. They pay attention to politics, the economy, social causes, and environmental issues. They think they’re a force to be reckoned with in elections and follow the candidates online on social networks. They read the news, but not in newspaper format, which is is going to hurt that industry even more as time goes by.
6.THEY DON’T WANT YOU AS A FACEBOOK FRIEND: They’re wary of old folks, like their boss, trying to “friend” them in their social space, especially if they’re tragically un-hip wannabes. 54% have used MySpace, Facebook, or some other social network. Gen Y is getting into lifestreaming too, twittering and streaming live video. In their own world, they’re celebrities. Says Jason Barg, a 2004 graduate of Penn State University and founder of an online real estate company, notoriety is more about standing out from the crowd. “A primary goal of people my age is not necessarily to become famous but to become distinctive,” he says.
7. WORK TOOLS NEED TO MIRROR WEB TOOLS: Gen Y will drive adoption of “Enterprise 2.0″ products and services. Gen Y in the workplace will not just want, but expect their company to provide them with tools that mirror those they use in their personal lives. If socializing on Facebook or on mobile phones helps them get a lead, then they’re not going to understand why they can’t use it for work. For more buckled down companies, if workers aren’t provided with the tools they want, they’re going to be savvy enough to go around IT’s back and get their own.
RESOURCES: Ypulse (RSS) My Gen Y Life (RSS) Twenty Set (RSS) Our American Shelf Life (RSS) Millennial Leaders (RSS) Lisa’s Generation Relations Blog (RSS) Modite (RSS) Life Before Noon (RSS) Generation Y Voodoo (RSS) Personal Branding Blog (RSS) Newly Corporate (RSS) The Marketing Student (RSS) Young and Frugal (RSS) Employee Evolution (RSS) PR Interactive (RSS)
“Most of what I do is help journalists and news orgs wrap their brains around the Internet. Generally I enjoy that work. Lately, though, I’ve been getting quite aggravated at the close-minded and helpless attitudes I’m *still* encountering from too many journalists about how the media landscape is changing. Those attitudes are revealed by statements, decisions, actions, and inaction which belie assumptions such as:
*The only journalism that counts is that done by mainstream news orgs, especially in print or broadcast form. Alternative, independent, online, collaborative, community, and other approaches to news are assumed to be inferior or even dangerous.
*Priesthood syndrome: Traditional journalists are the sole source of news that can and should be trusted — which gives them a privileged and sacred role that society is ethically obligated to support.
*Journalists and journalism cannot survive without traditional news orgs, which offer the only reliable, ethical, and credible support for a journalistic career.
*Real journalists *only* do journalism. They don’t dirty their hands or distract themselves with business and business models, learning new tools, building community, finding new approaches to defining and covering news, etc. As Louisville Courier-Journal staffer Mark Schaver said just this morning on Twitter, “[Now] is not a good time [for journalists] if you don’t want your journalism values infected with marketing values.”
*Journalistic status and authority demands aloofness. This leads to myriad problems such as believing you’re smarter than most people in your community; refusing to “compromise” yourself professionally by engaging in frank public conversation with your community; and using objectivity as an excuse to be uncaring, cynical, or disdainful.
*Good journalism doesn’t change much. So if it is changing significantly, it must be dying. Which in turn means the world is in big trouble, and probably deserves what it will get.
There’s a common problem with all these assumptions: They directly cut off options from consideration. This severely limits the ability of journalists and journalism to adapt and thrive…
I realize that right now is a scary time for journalists who crave stability. I have immense sympathy for good, smart people (many of whom have families to support and retirements to plan) who fear the unknown. Many of the news orgs that have sheltered and supported these journalists as they ply their craft are crumbling due to their inability or unwillingness to adapt their business models — leading to layoffs, buyouts, attrition, dwindling resources, overwork, and general demoralization.
I also know — first hand — that the prospect of learning new skills can be daunting. (That’s why, after all these years, I still don’t speak any language but English, and I still don’t know how to write computer code.) Plus, many of us have spent lots of money on j-school and many years in professional journalism honing our writing and reporting skills. We don’t *want* to learn how to think like an entrepreneur, or an information architect, or a community manager! We just want to keep doing what we know how to do; we didn’t sign up for all this extra stuff….
Philip Meyer, in his book The Vanishing Newspaper, predicts that the final copy of the final newspaper will appear on somebody’s doorstep one day in 2043.
For some, it’s come sooner.
Can an 180,000-circulation, weekly magazine go web-only and still survive?
International Data Group, the world’s largest publisher of technology newspapers and magazines, says it can be done.
InfoWorld, its flagship weekly turned web publication, is generating ad revenue of US$1.6 million a month with operating profit margins of 37 percent.
A year earlier, when it had both print and online versions, InfoWorld had operating losses of 3 percent on monthly revenue of US$1.5 million.
“The excellent thing, and good news, for publishers is that there is life after print – in fact, a better life after print,” said Patrick McGovern, the founder and chairman of IDG.
“Advertisers and readers of high-tech publications have moved online more swiftly than other audiences, so IDG may offer a glimpse of the future of publishing. Yet the transition only came after years of investment, upheaval and changes in its practice of journalism.
“The biggest single step and most striking sign of the company’s online shift came a year ago, on April 2, 2007, when the last print edition of InfoWorld appeared and it became a web-only publication.
“There were nervous months after the switch, as the company awaited the reaction from advertisers and readers, but before long InfoWorld’s web audience was growing and its business improved.
“These days, 52 percent of the revenue comes from online ads, while 48 percent is from the print side.
“Last year, print and online publications accounted for 70 percent of IDG’s US$3 billion in revenue, with the rest coming from its conference business and technology research firm, IDC.
“The giant technology publisher has not just stabilized its business, McGovern said, but is now growing around 10 percent annually – though a severe recession would surely dim its growth prospects this year.
“Throughout its network of 300 print titles and 450 Web sites in 85 countries, IDG has converted smaller titles to online only, but InfoWorld was the big one. More will come, company executives say, as print titles slip into the red and are left behind.
“But they emphasize that the print versions of some titles, like CIO, a glossy twice-monthly magazine, will likely be around for many years.
“CIO, for chief information officer, distributed free to senior technology managers, is solidly profitable and runs long pieces that detail the use of technology in corporations and government institutions.
“Yet even CIO has adopted what its managers call an “online first” business model. Three years ago, the editorial staff was divided into three people who worked on the website only, and the rest only on print.
“Today, there are no barriers. The total staff size, at 23, is one fewer than in 2005, but now most of them spend 80 percent of their time on the web, while a handful of writers spend 80 percent of their time on the long, centerpiece articles in the print magazine.
“But everyone writes for the web these days. ‘It’s only fair to people for their career development,’ said Michael Friedenberg, the president of CIO. ‘How can you say to anyone, in this environment, that they can only write in print and not online?’
“Yet as a web-only publication, InfoWorld is very different from the bygone print edition. Gone are the long pieces of more than 3,000 words, with anecdotes and narrative, examining how technology had transformed some company or industry. Instead, the key online is packaging information into ‘digestible chunks,’ typically of no more than a page of text or so, sometimes in lists of “10 things to do” to solve some technology problem in companies.
“The web also opens the door to offerings that are impossible in print like short animations that explain complex technologies, and an online petition urging Microsoft to keep selling the aging Windows XP operating system beyond its June cutoff date that has collected 160,000 signatures online.
“Without the physical limits of print, it becomes easier to explore topics more deeply on the Web. InfoWorld presents a stable of bloggers, including 19 freelance writers, who are authorities in niches including data protection, green technology, open-source software and cloud computing.
“Eric Knorr, the current editor in chief, says the goal with reporting and blogging is to create ‘thought leadership and depth’ in several subject areas online.
“Stewart Alsop, a journalist-turned-venture capitalist, was the editor in chief of InfoWorld in the 1990s, when the it was thick with ads and its editorial staff was at its peak. “Technology publishing just happens to be at the point of this whole transformation of media,” Alsop said. ‘What’s happening at IDG is a fairly accurate map for every other publishing organization. Get over it, it’s going to happen.’ “
It seems that Britons are more addicted to poking and tweeting and writing on each other’s walls than anyone else in Europe.
Social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace reached 9.6 million users in the UK in 2007, according to a new report from Datamonitor. This puts it ahead of bigger countries, including France with 8.9 million and Germany with 8.6 million. Spain is in fourth place with just 2.9 million.
The UK user base is forecast to almost triple to 27.1 million by 2012. For Europe overall, the user base is forecast to rise from 41.7 million now to 107.4 million over the next four years.
Datamonitor explains the UK’s dominance on the fact that British consumers are quick to adopt new technology and many of the networks were initially only available in English.
Is it plausible that 27.1 million Britons – half the population – will be using social networking sites by 2012? This represents a 23% compound annual growth rate over the five years from 2007.
By 2012 social networking is likely to be far more integrated into everything we do online. But given that not everyone in the country is online and the current high growth rates are likely to slow, it does seem extraordinarily high.
The report also notes that so far, using social networking sites for marketing campaigns has yielded mixed results, partly because advertisers are uncertain about how to do it.
The personal information available on the sites is a rich vein for advertisers to mine in creating targeted campaigns – but they also need to be careful not to overstep the bounds and invade users’ privacy. However, I’m sure they’ll figure this out eventually.