Monday, July 26, 1999

Future predictions from Silicon Valley top writers

What happens when you put a mix of editors, agents, writers and computer and book geeks together on the fourth floor of Barnes & Noble on Union Square? Some interesting discussions to say the least. Well, On Monday, July 26th Jon Karp, an editor at Random House, led conversations between Po Bronson, Gary Rivlin and Kara Swisher as they discussed and debated about Silicon Valley, the Internet, the convergence of technology and culture, and the Satanic dimensions of Bill Gates. The fifth stop on the authors' seven-city "Silicon Valley Bleeding Edge Book Tour," was well-attended and continued onto Boston the next day.

Kara Swisher offered interesting points based on her intimiate knoweldge of AOL for her book "" She pointed out that AOL wouldn't exist today if they started in Silicon Valley because everyone always bashed them. Because they were living and working in their own world (basically) they could continue to believe in themselves and grow to what they have today. When asked for her prediction of what's to come, she cited "ubiquitous computing" as our relationship with technology and its certain invisibilty like the telephone -- we won't think about it, we'll just use it.

Gary Rivlin has a thorough knowledge of Bill Gates and Microsoft's history, actions and future from his book "The Plot To Get Bill Gates" and relayed his thoughts on the Microsoft trial. He considers that MS has annoyed the judge, that they're "blowing it" and Gates' testimony is basically making Bill Clinton look profound. With tactics that are going over the line, (ex. learning that they wouldn't package MS products with Compaq when they announced a partnership with Netscape).

Kara chimed in that the Internet will be the demise of MS, not the trial because they are not good at media marketing.

An older Indian man asked a question about the use/abuse of Company Towns replacing large groups of burnouts with a "new crop" of immigrants and asked the writers to talk about racism and agism. All three writers agreed this is a problem and mentioned how some of biggest technology firms are not up to par with their equal opportunity standards for government contracts.

Due most likely to his research of many of the Valley startups, Po mentioned how he's met a lot of 24-year olds on their 4th startup who are already bored with having their Ferraris!

The conversation lasted about an hour and then after the brief Q&A, they signed books. I met writer Lisa Estreich while in the "meet the authors" line. We were right behind a man who brought what looked like every release of "Bombadiers" and asked Po to sign them all! Each writer was truly a delight to listen to and gain a first hand perspecitve on the situation in California. You can hear their discussion yourself at: