Friday, October 13, 2006

A Look Over the Horizon: Google, Microsoft, New Yorkers talk

The room could've been set for a wedding. Short, elegant white hydrangea and orchid arrangements centered on each table, elegant martini glasses at each place setting and a beautiful sunny day all contributed to the excitement in the room. There was a man and a woman at the center, on a dais, and a third man officiating, and an expectant audience. Yet, the stage and room was set for the Syracuse University's Newhouse School in NY discussion at the Bryant Park Grill. The woman was Google consumer web products director Marissa Mayer and the man was Intellectual Ventures founder & CEO Nathan Myhrvold. The "officiant?" The author and writer of "The New Yorker's Annals of Communications" Ken Auletta.

These weren't the only powerhouses in the house though. CBS Digital Media president Larry Kramer, UBS Investment Banks MD and Joint Head of Tech Brian Webber and The New Yorker editor David Remnick also each had a chance for their shout-out.

Here are the meat-n-potatoes (synopsized):
KA: Does Google think it's getting revenue from its massive YouTube purchase?
NM: Google's purchasing a popularity entity, not a profitable venture. Soon these videos will be seen on HD quality.
MM: We will honor copyright requests of content creators on YouTube and remove videos when asked.

KA: Is Google going after Microsoft?
NM: Yes! Case in point, "Google's word processing application online is like a thumb in the eye to Microsoft" and MS will respond to that for sure.
MM: "It's hard to play offense when the competition has $150 mm in cash." "We try to focus on the end-user."

KA: How is Google affecting the traditional content generators (publishing, books, Hollywood)
MM: Books are not going to go away. Publishers don't need to work. People will always want to bring a book to the beach, not read it on their computer.
NM: "I'm on the board of Dreamworks, so I'm Shrek's boss's boss." The software is so much better from a technology standpoint so the ability to tell a story is much better. "The challenge is what happened to music is now happening to movies. Hollywood is driving toward the cliff, just like Thelma and Louise." I have two twin 17-year old boys and I told them as long as they live under my roof (with copyrights have paid for) then they will be paying for their music. Of course their teenage friends think they (and thus I) am stupid.
MM: We are working with publishers and have 10 years before we get all books online.
NM: The biggest issue is that there's no Digital Rights Management (DRM). There's no standard way to buy digital content, so people will steal it. It's like when you pay for something with a Mastercard or Visa, the machine that reads the stripe on the back is standardized.
MM: We initially had resistance when we first launched News. You didn't want to be in my Inbox that morning! But by the afternoon, things were better... We had success with the New York Times with the "1st-click free" experiment. We convinced them that there would be more registrants and loyal readers if they let them read the first page of the article they're trying to get at for free. It worked.
NM: In 1989 there was an article saying that it's not about the 3lbs of pulp delivered to your doorstep on Sunday mornings. Newspapers don't need the paper. It's about the content and now these content players can expand their offerings to other mediums. TV News killed "Look" and "Life" magazine because those publications were photojournalism. In the same way there will be some transitions and filtering of older properties as these newer mediums emerge and fine-tune.

KA: A lot of companies have a big lead and then stumble--AOL, Yahoo--How's it going to be for Google?
MM: We don't consider ourselves on a big perch. Yes, search is good but we'd like it to be even better! And we're not the leader in Asia. I always tell my product developers, "look! There's another leader! Follow them!" Sometimes it's easier to see what others are doing and follow their lead than to always have to be the one to come up with the font leading on a site. (oh! Woh is me!)
NM: It's important for companies to not rest on their laurels. The way you do well in life is to fix the mistakes when you're not perfect, because none of us are perfect.

Question from the audience:
Larry Aidem, President and CEO, Sundance Channel: Question regarding a quality filter. Their tagline is, "we watch bad movies, so you don't have to."
MM: Good videos get rated higher and when you see one you like you share it with your friends. For instance, she loved the OK GO treadmill dance and sent that to all her friends. There's a guy at Google who watches videos all day and rates them. Lucky guy. People love his ratings, and this is the beginning of their "quality filter."

Writing this, I got sidetracked and the one I found that I think is cool, is this one:
(and here:

A UBS guy asked about the scalability of the hardware.
NM: This is the disease that computer geeks since the 60s keep getting--thinking that you're going to get a computer that's scalable. The computer isn't scalable, the interface is. Basically, Google itself is a giant supercomputer using lots of computers around the world.
MM: Google wants to make more content partnerships. Her friends and family are exasperated by Google's interface. They're like, "You've been there 7 years and it still looks the same!" Advertising is the area where there's the most room for innovations.

Question from Joe @ The New York Times about when will we be able to just type a question into a search and get an answer?
MM: We need to do a better job of blending technology so you could get a picture, or a video or a snippet as an answer. Written instructions on how to build a snowman isn't as effective as a video. Soon she'd like to see ability to get search results for voice requests, like when you're in your car and you're looking for a Chinese food restaurant.

John Sykes from MTV Networks asked a question before there were closing remarks and the captive audience sipped some more coffee, exchanged a few business cards and then headed out into the bustling busy city of New York. Media, Technology, Art, Fashion, Film, Culture and Food--it's all here and it's all excellent!

Disclaimer: The martini glasses were filled to the rim with.... yogurt, honey and granola!

What's the next (creative) idea?!

Looking to bring some more creativity into your life? Try Judy and Andre's "The Next Idea Creativity Weekend," where you can explore the Art, Science and Spirit of Creativity. Held the weekend of October 27th, in the idyllic Lebanon, NY, flush with trees bursting with color at a Sufi retreat and compound, this weekend will have diverse workshops given by over 20 top leaders in the field of creativity. Structured as a "Micro-University" with 3 concurrent sessions every hour and a half, you can select from a wide range of topics in Business, Personal and Professional Creativity. More info:

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Psychedelics, poetry and technology. What more could a girl ask for?!

What kind of world will it be when psychedelic medicines and sacraments are fully integrated into society? Well, on October 12th, "Poetry Science Talks" featured Tom Roberts, professor, scholar, author, chrestomathematician, organizer and quiet activist spoke on a psychedelic future. Whoa dude. I actually couldn't make this trippy happening, but I'll be checking out others, so stay tuned for more!

Kim Roy is not a Korean man!

The first two years of my college life I spent in idyllic Saratoga Springs, NY at Skidmore. This small liberal arts college manages to continue to produce smart people with smart ideas so I was more than interested in attending their first of a monthly series at the Triomphe restaurant on 44th Street. Bright and early on Thursday, October 12th (7:15 AM!) I heard Ralph Lauren-Women president Kim Roy (Class of 1980) speak on her career path to this high-profile job. She spoke of the companies and department stores she worked for and how she's equally blessed with a wonderful family (including a daughter who's a Skidmore freshman now). Kim spent the majority of her brief talk focusing on what Ralph Lauren's business was like and how it's changing. We can read that in the news, I would've preferred to hear more of the personal journey as well. Like the time she was 23 and first sent to Asia. Everyone kept expecting a Korean man to show up because Kim is a common surname!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Slacking flacks need not apply

Media Bistro is kicking up its heels and hosting more soirees, like their parh-teh in New York City on October 11th at the R Bar and an upcoming one in DC on the 25th. More info:

Green Drinks? It's not even St. Patty's Day!

Green Drinks NYC hosted their monthly cocktail party for New Yorkers interested in exploring all things green and sustainable. This past Tuesday, October 10th, they schmoozed at Ear to the Earth at 3LD Gallery/Art Center, 80 Greenwich Street, in the Three Legged Dog space. Three Legged Dog is another fascinating and very important theater (and tech-y) group you should check out.

If you haven't heard of "Ear to the Earth," then get thee feet to it! It goes till Saturday October 14 and is a festival of environmental sound and image with installations, panels and concerts. Conceived and organized by Electronic Music Foundation, the aim of the festival is to inspire sensitivity to our natural and human environments through sound and foster engagement in environmental issues. See website:

Ignite your Snapses ~ Stories from Iraq

Renaissance man Jim Sosnicky was in town, from DC, to read excepts of his stories from the book "Operation Homecoming" on Monday, October 9th at the Astor Place Barnes & Noble and then again on Tuesday, October 10th at the Ignite Café. Ignite Café is part of the amazingly provoking Synapse Productions month-long movie series, designed to get those synapses firing. Synapse Productions' artistic director Ginerva Bull, Jim and I discussed how to get people to care about the issues in our world. Are we all so busy? Are we all that apathetic? What would make you want to go downtown to an amazingly authentic, gritty theater and get informed and entertained with films about the controversial topics our nation (and world) are facing? Let us know! or

Jim's stories were graphic and real. They told the story of one man who's informed and experienced and who had the incredible opportunity perform in a theater about his experiences in the theater of war. I have decided this is how I prefer to get my news. Yes, there's usually a liberal POV, but I'd prefer to get informed this way, than through the major news enterprises (who also have agendas).

Get the book

NYU treats to a healthy shake!

The crisp fall air brings out memories of returning to school and this week I reconnected with both of my colleges. I had a lovely lunch on Tuesday, October 10th (okay, a health shake at the healthy Pulse Café with NYU's Office of University Development and Alumni Relations Senior Development Associate Eric Riley. Always one for an audience (there's that acting training!) I was happy to recount my life's experiences for his reconnecting with alumnae project. Of course, I also couldn't resist getting involved helping with Reunion activities and the mentoring programs.

Some of you may recall I mentor with Futures For Children, which is a wonderful mentoring program where, mostly via letters (you remember those, don't you) you instill the importance of education to a Native American child.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

New York Is Open to the Public

We're in a world where the public has access to so much and yet more access is being denied in other areas. Once a year this fabulous city opens its doors to some secret spaces. The 4th Annual openhousenewyork Weekend (presented by Target) was the weekend of October 6-7th. There were 180 sites and 120 programs such as opendialogue, sustainablenewyork, an architecturemoves performance and kids workshops and tours in all five boroughs on the city's architecture, design, cultural heritage and history. I biked up the Hudson River's esplanade to hop inside the Solders and Sailors Monument on 82nd and Riverside and then through Central Park to the Ukrainian Institute House, build by Mr. Fletcher for Mr. Sinclair's family. It was a great workout for my legs and mind. Ah New York! Can't beat it! :)