Happy Internet Week: Update on the First Two Days

Written by Carib Guerra on . Posted in NY Press Exclusive, Technology, Uncategorized.


Photo courtesy of Groundreporter and Flickr Commons.

Following the sleepy-faced 7:30am curtain call David-Michel Davies, founder of the Webby Awards and cofounder of Internet Week itself, gave a quick hello and passed the mic to New York City’s Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne. The work that Sterne has been doing in partnerships with the local tech community is a large part of the growth we’ve recently seen here in the city. She mentioned the recent New Tech City Report, put out by the Center for an Urban Future, stating that “New York City is the only region in the country that over the last five years has experienced an increase in venture capital funding.” People! Not only were we the only ones, all the other popular cities like Boston and Silicon Valley actually saw investment fall. Good job us. Speaking of jobs, Mayor Bloomberg and Rachel Sterne’s unveiled a little dealy called Made in New York, a Google map for job seekers that pinpoints tech companies that are hiring. Very cool.

So word. Then what? Billy Beane, the dude who was portrayed by Brad Pitt in Moneyball, gave a keynote speech on how he harnessed data for the power of good (i.e. money…and ball). As for things that can be seen on everybody’s lips, #BigData is the new hipster mustache. I suppose it makes sense to have Mr. Beane get up and talk about it in a sort of Old Guard passing the torch way, but really we all just wanted to see if he was as handsome as Pitt. On that point, “they pretty much nailed it,” said Billy Beane while on a stage. Fair, though. In a completely objective sense, I’ll say, dude was pretty Silver Foxy.

Beyond Beane, we had a treat of a speech on Tuesday morning with David Carr and Brian Stelter of the New York Times. First, I should just say that these guys really don’t seem to like each other very much. Until they hit the groove it was a fairly uncomfortable back and forth about who would win in a fight between the Past and the Future, played by Carr and Stelter, respectively. Now I’m no Nostradamus but—based on the way that he is dead and I am alive—my money’s on the Future. Sorry, Carr. Moving forward the gist of their banter was that the New York Times won’t fail…no matter what. So don’t worry, y’all: The Times is here to stay; stay here, indeed.

Today we saw Mitchell Baker, Chairperson of the Mozilla Foundation and former CEO of the Mozilla Corporation, give an awesome talk about the trajectory of her organization and, in effect, well, us. When Mozilla dropped Firefox it really changed the way we understand our interactions with Internet technology. Think about the difference between the world of proprietary software that we had before and the push of Open Source that they sort of ushered in. It’s all very cool. Where we’re headed, though, with all the data out there and concerns over privacy and fair use and $$$, is for a bunch of people a pretty worrisome landscape. Mozilla’s Do Not Track initiative, which started with the browser add-on and has recently gone mobile, is one response to the issue of uncontrollable consumer transparency. It’s one response, and it’s a good one. Regardless of what your stance is on whether or not companies should have hold of all our infos, just having the option to not be tracked—to opt-out—is what Baker is all about. Her whole deal is that if there’s this “ball of information about me out there, that can be very personal, and that can be very scary. But it can be used to get a degree of personalization that you just can’t beat.” That’s real, right? But in order to make this Personal Web really a human thing we need to find a way to “maintain a workable balance that allows companies to use that valuable information, but that also ensures individual control.” I couldn’t agree more.

So that’s what’s up for the first two days of #IWNY! I’ll be back shortly to fill you in on the rest.

Follow me for updates and just because, @44carib

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