Sunday, December 03, 2006

The World is Flat: Now What?

Avi and I went to the Staying Ahead In A Flat World: What's Next? panel discussion (Thomas L. Friedman, Tim O'Reilly, Brian Behlendorf, and Devin Wenig,) where we were probably the only geeks in attendance. I took some notes and here are some highlights that I think are worth noting:

Thomas Friedman was asked what has changed since he wrote the book? He answered with a simple "everything and more". Friedman retold a creepy story of the flattening of his own world. He came home one night after giving a speech at a naval academy and he received an email from his daughter notifying him that she knew where he was because she was facebooked by one of the naval academy guys/creep.

Thomas concluded with his iron rule of the flatworld: when the world is flat whatever can be done it will be done. Its just a matter if you get it done or you have it done to you.

At this point Tim chimed in saying either you are a flattened or a flattener!

Brian Behlendorf
was asked how sees open source in a flat world?:
Economy based on dependece towards one of enablement (red hat and mysql). The user takes a defining role and adds to the direction of a company.
Tim O'Reilly was asked to define Web 2.0? (and then I sighed):
Building systems that harness network effects that only gets better with use. (i.e. google)
-Basically a way to understand and harness network effects.

The panel was asked why is this all happening now and why is it so cool?
Brian answered simply the reason is b/c hippies did it. He referenced Markoff's book,What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry and added that it might just be the bay area culture (i.e. burning man)

Tim doesn't think its just the counterculture--its more about the culture of participation. Specifically by the most passionate users. Tim dropped Kathy Sierra's blog as a point of reference. He also mentioned that hackers are the innovators. They think its cool and they are not trying to be entrepenuers and not make money off of it (i.e Alpha Geeks) The reason its happening now because the alpha geeks are being heard now and are finding each other.
Friedman quotes his book that the pc and the mac allowed authors to publish their own content.

Thomas Friedman made a point to mention that The Flat World connects us as well as divides us. And relates a story of him being in a cab with his driver who was on his cell phone and watching a movie while Friedman was writing a column on his laptop and the two didn't say one word to each other the entire time they were in the car together.

The panel noted that the ideal employee is one that has passion!!! (An aside if you are reading this and are passionate about programming please contact me). And that every employee is a volunteer until you find what they are passionate about!

TF mentioned that while touring the US for his book he came to the realization that the white house is brain dead!!! BUT Our country is ALIVE. The beauty of the USA is that it rewards innovations.

Thomas told a story of his grandmother (or mother not sure) said that we should never seed the title for most innovative country to someone who censors google! (cough cough china)

Another story I liked was that the beauty that is walmart. Tom's friend Yoshi from MIT said that making stuff is easy but the supply chain is hard. Walmart has mastered the supply chain.
Sam Walton was the reason for this, he was an early adopter of technology.

Last but not least google was mention no less than five times in different scenarios and Tim noted that Google wants to know where we all are at all times. (nothing new but just noteworthy)

If you want to watch a full replay of the panel will be online on collabnet's website.
I'm assuming some time this week.

Here are some photos I took :

Exchanging Business CardsExchanging Business Cards Hosted on Zooomr

Post Panel PicsAvi chatting with Tim Hosted on Zooomr

You can see the rest of my pics in my Smart Set on Zooomr

A nice writeup:

Update: I just wanted to let you know that the 2 hour long video of the panel discussion was finally
posted here