Google Pulls Together World Class Zeitgeist
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, Wikipedia.org; 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)
New York Times