Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Google Pulls Together World Class Zeitgeist

Zeitgeist Is a Vision

The future of Internet communications is about Collaboration and Connection. All was explored on the Google campus last week in a thought leadership gathering of a very high order.

“Technology has created a new critical mass to collaborate and connect that hasn’t been available in history to date and is giving us new ways of doing things“ said the event’s moderator, James Fallows The Atlantic Monthly’s National Correspondent, kicking off the event.
His vision for the event published before we got there was timely and supported a wide-ranging flow of ideas and debate:

“The drivers of the changes we’ll be discussing are in many cases familiar: the endless spread of networking, the omnipresence of connections, the erosion of national borders in many ways – and their strange persistence in others; the effects on organizations and corporations of all these changes.”

Brilliant job, Mr. Fallows.

So, Question: What is Zeitgeist?

Answer 1: Zeit-geist (German term) = spirit (geist) of the time (zeit)

Answer 2: Google Zeigtgeist Partner Forum 2007 – Google’s annual event for partner discussion and industry networking among global thought leaders.

When Google throws it’s annual partner forum, the attendee list is not VIP-challenged.

Many of us at the event are not easily star-struck, but to even the most seasoned, this was a very concentrated gathering of tech, business, and government – and a true forum of ideas and zeitgeist circa October, 2007.

There we all were -- Steve Case, Esther Dyson, Al Gore in passing, and Sergey, Larry, Eric and the Google executive team all wandering in and out of seminar and session breaks.

Themes stretched from Corporation 2.0 to The Wealth of Networks, from The New Responsibility
to New Media = New Marketing. (And many more).

Sessions ranged from discussing ‘flat’ [as in Friedman’s book The World Is Flat] organizations (John Chambers, Chairman & CEO, Cisco Systems interviewed by Thomas Friedman, Foreign Affairs Columnist/Author, The New York Times) to the notion of Collaboration Delivered with David Kirkpatrick, Senior Editor, Internet & Technology, Fortune Magazine interviewing Frederick W. Smith, Chairman & CEO, FedEx Corporation and his CIO, Robert B. Carter.

The list of illustrious attendees and presenters went on and on: Craig, the Weinstein brothers, Ariana Huffington and National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell just to name a few others.

Choice Zeitgeist Quotes:

“Zeitgeist is how we connect to you . . .[Google partners]”

“We knew that by lunchtime we were going to be out of capacity …” [on Google’s first big project deliverable to Netscape]
--Omid Kordestani, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Business Development, Google]

“Whatever can be done will be done – the question is will it be done by you or to you”
--Thomas Friedman, Foreign Affairs Columnist/Author, The New York Times [on the new digital rules for small and large business]

“We don’t focus on the competition at all…we try to get the market right 3 to 5 years out and use competition as a measure of how we’re doing.”
--John Chambers, Chairman & CEO, Cisco Systems

“People who are not supposed to collaborate, do.”
“Europe is lagging behind.”
--Maurice Levy, Chairman/CEO, Publicis Groupe [speaking on social networking innovation]

“Our fleet of wide-bodied planes are the clipper ship of the electronic age “
--Frederick W. Smith, Chairman & CEO, FedEx Corporation

“We’re going through a period moving more and more discrete sources of news – more than the narrow channels of the 60’s.”
--Former U.S. President Bill Clinton

“If you wish to go quickly, go alone
If you wish to go far, then go together.”
--Al Gore [quoting an African proverb relating to the challenges of climate change and harnessing new technology]

Wnen I was stopped at the customs I answered about my identity that I was the ‘inventor of Wikipedia’ to which the customs officer glibly replied “Yeah, you and Al Gore”.
--Jimmy Wales, Founder,; Co-Founder/Chairman of the board, Wikia, Inc.

Parsons: “We’re trying to puzzle our way through AOL and 3rd party ad monetization – we’re working on this . . . the media has made it difficult.”
Schmidt: “Yes, but you’re in charge [of the media]!”
Parsons: “That’s the assumption.” [audience laughter]
--Eric Schmidt, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Google
--Richard Parsons, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Time Warner

“We’re in a big itchy sweater waiting for our heads to pop out. I don’t know anyone in the industry that doesn’t feel that way [re: successfully implementing digital media for business results]”
--Kim Kadlec, Global Chief Media Officer - Global Marketing Group, Johnson & Johnson

“We love the light and what comes out of that light.”
--Rich Silverstein, Co-Chairman/Creative Director, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners [on storytelling as the key to media whether the campfire or iPhone]”

“The future is not going to be about interruption…it’s about audience wanting to get involved with the brand”
--Bob Greenberg, Chairman/CEO/Global Chief Creative Officer, R/GA

“The future is bottoms up … the fact is collaborating is messy…but if we get it right we can move to a post-beaurocratic freedom of information …”
--David Cameron, Leader of the British Conservative Party

Sergey: I drive a Prius, it’s a really good car…and, for instance, I can park it on a San Francisco hill very easily.
Larry: But I’ve seen your car, and it has scratches on it.
Sergey: Well, no car is accident-proof yet. [audience laughs]
--Larry Page, Co-founder and Vice President, Products, Google --Sergey Brin, Co-founder and Vice President, Technology, Google

Hard Nosed and Heart Felt
I agree with Stewart Alsop who told me at the opening reception that this event was largely an advertising forum. However, to myself and many others it was much more. In fact, I’ve gotten some very interesting, often heart-felt responses from folks I met at the event on what the biggest take-away was for them and will try to publish some of it in my next column. For some other published reports on the event see the links below.

Wall Street Journal (by Kara Swisher, includes video)

BBC News

Times Online

New York Times

Monday, October 15, 2007

Howard to Moderate at Digital Hollywood November 1, 2007

I'll be moderating an exciting panel at the end of the month at Digital Hollywood. I expect interesting insights on the combining forces of IPTV, Music, and Gaming. The panelists are first rate, and the conversation should be cutting edge.

Track III:
Personalized Video, Music & Gaming Experience - Breakthroughs in Mobile, Broadband & IPTV - Search, Widgets, Virtual Worlds, Messaging Capabilities & Advertising
David Gosen, CEO, I-play
Martin Dunsby, President and CEO, Vollee
Justin Jarvinen, founder and CEO, VerveLife
Tim Stevens, President and CEO, Doppelganger
Nicholas Reichenbach, Vice President, Bplay
Chris Brown, CEO, Metabeam Corporation
Tyler Goldman, Chief Executive Officer, Buzznet
Howard Greenfield, Industry Strategist & Columnist, Go-Associates, Moderator
For Session Description & Speaker Bios Click Here

Thursday, October 11, 2007

At Google’s Partner Forum in Mountain View, California Headquarters

Am attending the star-studded Google Zeitgeist 2007 event this week that I was invited to this year.

Only at an event like this could I have a chat with Steve Case (founder of AOL), Al Gore (former U.S. Vice President), and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead. Topics from technology to business to culture to philanthropy range around the theme of Connect + Collaborate. All masterfully managed by Shanghai-based Atlantic Monthly editor James Gallows who has put a brilliant whole content flow for the presentations together.

Gala dinner in a geodesic dome last night at Shoreline Amphitheatre.

Am off to the last day for discussions between Google founders, Alan Parsons (current AOL-Time Warner CEO, Thomas Friedman (author, The World is Flat), and David Cameron, Leader of the British Conservative Party.

I’ll follow up with further views in my column next month.