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March 07, 2008

Chris Anderson and Mike Arrington on Charlie Rose

Both these interviews provide a great overview of the world of Web tech.

Rose's interview with Chris Anderson (editor-in-chief of Wired magazine and creator of the Long Tail meme) covers the different economies of the Web. First, is the idea of the "freemium," where most Web sites provide free services for 99% of the users, and then charge for the premium service for 1%. Then there's the gift economy which is best typified by Craigslist. Anderson says it took the $400 million market of newspaper classifieds and reduce it to the $30 to $40 million that Cragislist pulls in. Where did the balance go? Supposedly, to us.

You also have the attention economy, the reputation economy and finally the monetary economy which has always been the hardest for the Web realized, unless you're Google.

Anderson says he believes the saying that "information wants to be free," but he still thinks that there's a market for specialized info that can demand a premium.

Looking at print content, he says that magazines should try to provide the long form writing and photography that can't be appreciated on a computer screen. Here production quality has the advantage. Sites like YouTube never considered the quality but depend on relevance to attract its users.

He feels that Microsoft will eventually have to provide Office as a Web-based app in order to compete with Google.

He sees social networking sites begin to mature and specialize. The one-size-fits-all Facebook will find competition with smaller networks that serve narrow interests. He mentioned that Mark Andreesen has started Ning, a service which already has 150,000 such networks. Anderson has his own: DIYDrones.com which covers robotics.

Charlie took him to task about US being able to maintain its superiority in designing new gadgets, when Chris said that the US has the richest consumers in the World who understand what makes a great device.

The other video was an interview with Mike Arrington of TechCrunch fame. He reports mostly about start-ups in Silicon Valley.

Mike started off by explaining how on his blog he decided that McCain and Obama were the best candidates for supporting tech. McCain is a staunch supporter in addressing the problem of ID theft. His ID was stolen by someone who is now a "guest of the state of Arizona."

Net neutrality is another important issue. He said that when Googe first set up Google.cn in China in 2006, it faced the prospect of having to the government's rules of censorship. He says that the way China does it, is that it might not block sites it doesn't like outright, but forces these sites to load slowly so that the user becomes dissatified with using the site.

This turned the conversation to mobiles, since in the developing world this is the primary means of accessing the Internet, and Arrington felt that eventually this would be the case in the US. The US is lagging behind Europe because of the way spectrum was initially allocated to the carriers in the US. More recent auctions are stipulating rules of openess, spearheaded by Google, btw.

He thinks the problem of the digital divide in the US needs to be dealt with. The use of the computer with Web access in education didn't turn out to be what it initially promised since it's more of a distraction for students than a learning aid. He said that TV will become the Internet, if it hasn't already.

Amazon's cloud computing model will be picked up by other companies such as Microsoft.

Then Charlie ask about the growing influence of blogs, and Mike said that people were more inclined to read opinions rather than the traditional objective journalism of the larger news sites, although he is a big fan of the BBC. This prompted Mike to talk about the subject he mainly covers in his blog: start-ups. These are the folks who are the modern day pirates. They see the utility of risk, supported by a strong survival instinct.

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