"Intimate" Lounge with Tim O'Reilly

by francine Hardaway on April 2, 2009

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I get to ask Tim O’Reilly the first question in the bloggers’ lounge at Web 2.0 Expo. So of course I ask him how it feels to be a grandfather, and I’m thinking I’m making a joke.

But he is answering my question. And he says it’s really strange, because he has only seen his grandchild via Skype. He’s got a cold, and his wife won’t let him near his daughter and the baby.  He has bonded with the other set of grandparents, who are from Australia and haven’t seen the baby either — except via Skype.

Do you realize how incredible that is?

Now we are on to Government 2.0. Mary Trigari has asked why Tim is spending so much time in Washington. He’s really trying to stir people up to use technology. He says Washington is full of people with high ideals that are buffaloed by old regulations in goverment that were put it place before technology. So many of the things to modernize government will have to come from outside, as the Edgar database did.

The developer who created Chicagocrime.org has done twelve more cities with a minor grant, so why can’t he just start a company that sells a product like that to the government.

This leads into a discussion of how to sell to the government, and how to dislodge the existing contractors or make them do more for the money they get. Tim is hoping to raise the bar on government contracting.

Shannon Clark asks the question “Where do you think the line is for a print publication?” What works in print and what doesn’t?

Print consists of many drivers: distribution and visibility (a magazine appears in an airport rack). Visibility helps a book. Print is another user interface; you’re not willing to take your laptop into your shop around your wood shavings (Make Magazine). There’s still demand for information; a book is a souvenir.  Whether print works depends on what kind of job you are trying to do for the reader.

Tim says he has learned a lot about publishing from Twitter: he re-tweets a lot. That’s the most minimal form of publishing.Huffpo is the voice of the community; the New York Times is still broadcasting.

Will conferences go away? No. O’Reilly says you want to see the people and take part in the hallway conversations. Only the keynotes wind up online. And conferences curate content and curated context.

Every aspect of O’Reilly’s business is changing. But the future of all media is curation.

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