Like most folks who spend a bit too much time online, it’s always odd trying to explain things to folks who … don’t have an online life outside of the weekly checking of the email or surfing for a cranberry recipe.
Over Thanksgiving in Minnesota I was asked to explain what Facebook was and got in some trouble for suggesting that it’s more of a “coastal thing” which was in fact probably wrong anyway but also seemed to imply the heartland wasn’t up to snuff on digital happenings. Interestingly though Craigslist was well known and loved by all even as the social networking tools were largely unrecognized.
I’ll definitely want to wait until next year to explain Twitter, but when I do I’ll have them read Tim O’Reilly‘s insightful post where I think he correctly observes that Twitter has moved from something that didn’t have obvious relevance or usefulness to an almost indispensable part of the work life of many onliners.
In some ways Twitter has replaced both email and blogging as the tool of choice for the digitally obsessed, and this has come about from it’s usefulness combined with the natural problems that have cropped up with email (spam, attachments, delays, lack of brevity, timing, etc, etc) and with blogging (surfing issues, navigation problems, wordiness, unequal playing fields, comment moderation, etc, etc.
Eric Schmidt said on CNBC’s Jim Cramer show today that even if asked he will not accept a position in the Obama administration that is expected to be something of a chief technology officer for the USA.
Reuters reports on the statement
Technology remains a vital US concern in terms of economy, national security, and offers the potential to extricate us from at least some of the pressing problems of the day.
Who would be a great choice for this position?
Mr President Elect Obama, I’d like to nominate Craig Newmark. Craig’s technology credentials are superb, he’s got global vision, and … his website is so successful he’ll never be bothering you for a raise in pay.
Here’s a good discussion of the CTO issue and potential qualifications. I hope Obama realizes how important it is that this person comes from Silicon Valley, deeply understands the internet from both a technical and business perspective, and has the ear and respect of many other major players. Schmidt and Newmark meet this test.
Other good choices might be Meg Whitman or Carly Fiorina. Both which would help cross the party line and the conspiculous tech gender line as well.
WebGuild of Silicon Valley sponsored a great one day conference last week. I missed the event but here are some pictures courtesy of Reshma Kumar and Daya Baran, the Vice President and President of WebGuild who have really done an extraordinary job making that group one of the premier internet insider gatherings in the world.
This year Craig Newmark from Craigslist gave one of the keynotes. He’s one of the most interesting folks in the internet landscape and it would really have been fun to hear his talk. For me, the huge success of Craigslist, combined with the simple and spartan look and structure, supports the idea that the internet at a core level is about *people and information* more than anything else.