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Preview: Tim O'Reilly's Archive

Tim O'Reilly's Archive

Tim O'Reilly's Archive

Updated: 2012-04-04T16:00:00-08:00-08:00


Tim O'Reilly's ArchiveTim O'Reilly interviewed by Forbes Editor Jon Bruner


April 2012. Forbes editor Jon Bruner interviewed me at #whereconf. We talked about location services, how data is the new source of lock-in and competitive advantage, and how sensors are transforming not only the location landscape but the entire way that data is disappearing into services.

Measuring the Economic Impact of the Sharing Economy


March 2012. While at our Strata Conference, I stopped by +John Furrier's Cube for an interview. We talked about a lot of things, but this is probably the first public airing of some ideas I've been thinking a lot about lately, namely how we can best measure the economic impact of what Lisa Gansky calls the sharing economy. I start with a paper I read in the 70s, Steve Baer's "Clothesline Paradox," which pointed out that when people hang their clothes on the line rather than putting them in the dryer, that reduction in demand doesn't go on our energy books as a credit to the renewables column, it just disappears from our accounting. The same is true of open source software, or, for that matter, of most of the products of what +Clay Shirky calls "cognitive surplus." This discussion is important in many contexts. For example, when talking about SOPA/PIPA, the movie industry talked about economic impact while the internet industry talked about freedom. Yet it's quite clear to me that there is a new economy of content that is quite possibly larger than the old one, but just not as well measured, because we measure value captured, not value created for users. In other fields, we celebrate lower prices for consumers and expansion of demand, but here, paradoxically, we are ignoring it, as well as ignoring the many real economic transactions that do occur. I intend to pull together some people to change that.

Tim O'Reilly speaks at the USRio+2.0 Conference


February 2012. Here's the video of my talk at Stanford a couple of weeks ago for the #USRio20 conference on sustainable development. I was trying to frame lessons from technology, including the notions of collective intelligence, man-machine symbiosis, real time feedback loops from sensors, to provide a context for understanding the role of tools like FrontlineSMS, Ushahidi, Crowdflower, Samasource and the like in their work. (I also give a shout out to Dave Warner's Beer for Data program in Afghanistan, and Claire Lockhart's Fixing Failed States.) As I've been doing a lot lately, I took off from Google's autonomous vehicle, because it brings together so many key themes in the technologies that are shaping the future, and by unpacking the technology behind this vehicle, you get deeper insight into where technology is taking us, and the fusion of machine learning and collective intelligence that is powering that future.

Tim O'Reilly Discusses Collective Intelligence


November 2011. I really like how this interview I did at the FutureMed conference turned out. It's a short, sweet synthesis of how I think some of the key trends from the consumer internet are going to have an impact on healthcare.

Tim O'Reilly - Keynote for 2011 NDIIPP/NDSA Partners Meeting


November 2011. At this meeting, I try to illustrate, using personal examples, several key issues that need to be addressed by those involved in digital preservation. Freeman Dyson once said to me, "Forgetting is so important: it makes room for new things!" This is what we should keep in mind even while we address the importance of preserving what is important. In O'Reilly's history, there have been examples of failure of preservation. The first: we have no copies of the first commercial website that appeared on the web. So the first point is: The things that turn out to be historic are not recognized necessarily as being historic at the time. The mindset has to be there or should have been there in our own company. The second example is also of failure in preservation. The first Open Source summit was an important event. We did know it, we tried to preserve the documents and the links, but the links in a few years were gone. So the second point here is that we have not built the tools necessary to increase the possibility of preserving what is important. The third point is that digital preservation might not be enough in every case. Recently traveling over the Sierra Madres, I found myself in need of a printed map. The screen on my phone did not give me enough "real estate" to reveal an alternative route to the closed mountain pass at which I had arrived, and my google maps app crashed. There were no printed maps at the gas station! Preservation should be baked into the tools that we use. I would love to see an initiative that would address what the web's memory ought to look like. I would like also for you to think of yourselves as people engaged in a task that is important to everyone and not just people in a scholarly niche. In the question and answer session, a questioner made a tweetable comment: "In the end, all data preservation is about physical preservation," whether it is on a hard drive or an optical disk, it's physically somewhere.

Channel 9 Interview


September 2011. A spot I did for Channel 9 on innovation and what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur. If you look at the really great revolutions in technology, they were begun by people who were a little out of step with their peers. These people were doing things that were just so cool, they couldn't not do them. You have to care. A really great company only comes when the founders care about what they are trying to accomplish.

On Steve Jobs' departure


August, 2011. In this interview, I was asked about Steve Job's resignation as CEO of Apple for health reasons, and what that might mean for the future of Apple, given its decline when he was fired by John Sculley. I explained that unlike his earlier departure, this is Steve Jobs leaving at the top of his game with everyone in the industry trying to copy him. That leaves Apple in a very strong position. The design team at Apple will likely continue to produce innovation as they remain inspired by the vision and the standards set by Steve's proven genius. Obviously, given the continued success of Apple after Steve's death, that has turned out to be the case.

Global Philanthropy Forum 2011: Rapid Fire Talks - Speed Bumps and Bottlenecks

July 2011-08:17

July 2011. This session addresses some of the issues confronting those seeking social change. My remarks begin at the 50 minute mark: After describing the growth of the computer industry and the global internet operating system, I point to the fact that the subsystems involved have tended to be monopolized. "We started with something that looked like it was allowing everyone to participate, yet technology is taking us in a direction where power is concentrated in the hands of a very few." "The world we are heading into has great capabilities for good and for harm. So my message is: Take technology seriously. It is becoming ubiquitous and inescapable. Try to understand how to make it your friend. Reach out to technologists in your midst. Get them to work with you. Understand how they can help you."

Open Source and the Architecture of Participation

July 2011-08:18

July 2011. In this interview, Chris Anderson, editor Wired magazine, Yves Behar, designer and founder of fuseproject, and I discuss open source, the maker movement, innovations in energy and health care, and sustainable design. I make the point that systems need to have an architecture that allows people to participate which then enables people to create. The internet itself is an example. Innovations happen when people are doing what they love, when they are exploring a new medium. Motivation is another important factor. "We need to recognize how much participation is actually driven by a desire to learn. There is a hunger in people to create and not just to consume." When asked about interesting trends in the maker movement, I pointed to the growing human-computer symbiosis driven by our devices which are constantly adding data to the "global brain in the cloud". In energy and healthcare innovations, the effectiveness of feedback loops for changing behaviors was also discussed.

Piracy, Tinkering, and the Future of the Book


March 2011. Jon Bruner had some interesting questions to ask in this March 14 Forbes interview. Sharing my thoughts with him on various issues ...I don't believe that the print book will go away for some time, that publishing is not dead but may need to reinvent itself, that market pricing for e-books is yet to be determined, and that piracy matters but only up to a point. "I think having faith in that basic logic of the market is important....You've probably seen my paper from 2002 called "Piracy is Progressive Taxation." I think that's a really good metaphor. If you are extremely well known and have a very desirable product, then yes, you probably do suffer a bit from piracy, in the same way that if you make a lot of money you pay more in taxes than if you don't make any money. But we generally accept that tradeoff because you know we use the money from the people who make a lot of money to help the people who don't." When asked about the high end tech competition presented by sites like Stack Overflow, I pointed to the reality that, as much as I admire what they have done, there is room for lots of types of businesses. "At O'Reilly the way we think about our business is that we're not a publisher; we're not a conference producer; we're a company that helps change the world by spreading the knowledge of innovators. So we started a venture firm, for example. And because we don't think of books as our business but knowledge transfer as our business—and in particular knowledge transfer from areas that are unrecognized—we're out there evangelizing some piece of the future. That means we're somewhat less interested in stuff that's well known, so that tends to take us away from the competition."

The Power of Platforms from Web 2.0 to Gov 2.0


March 2011. I spoke at the ESRI conference in March and touched on some of the key ideas that have been my focus for the last few years: the internet as operating system and government as platform. Not only is data transforming the new applications that are emerging in the tech world, but data is now being collected by sensors. All these changes are making possible really important work, from using mapping data in rescue work after earthquakes to viral forecasting. "We are in a period where we are transforming society through technology. It is really important to get it right. How can we build applications and systems that really help society?"

The Agenda with Steve Paikin: Tim O'Reilly: Government 2.0


June 2011. Steve Paiken asked me a series of questions here that ended up in a discussion of a topic that I have been focused on for some time. That is, what can government learn from the internet? The example of the iPhone becoming a platform is a wonderful metaphor for how government should act—and does act—when it is at its best. "If you consider, for example, the decision to open up of government collected gps data to the private sector, you realize that we wouldn't have the amazing number of location applications that we now enjoy." The last point I make is that government has always been a mechanism for collective action. What is so powerful today is that even though the scale of problems we have is vast, technology can enable new kinds of collective action to meet them.

Tech Cocktail Delivering Happiness at SXSW


March 2011. After a quick review of O'Reilly Media's history, I touch on a topic that I have recently become more involved in--I think there is a revolution brewing in health care. We are going to start having feedback on what works and what doesn't. We can apply technology to fix the lack of accountability and other important issues. I think a lot about how our entire society is in a bubble, not just a tech bubble... there are some really important issues that may have a dark future. "This is another reason to work on what matters. I love to have people take seriously that we need to make a better world."

Happy Accidents

March 2011T16:00:00-08:00-08:23

March 2011. Paul Hontz from began his interview with the question, "What is up with the animals?" that populate the covers of our books. The answer is, of course, that it was one of many happy accidents that brought O'Reilly to its place in the market today.

Interview with Bruno Aziza at Microsoft Business Intelligence

February 2011-08:24

February, 2011. "Data is the heart of competitive advantage," is the point I make in this interview with Bruno Aziza. In fact, data driven operating systems are the heart of Web 2.0; they are the reality of the internet. Massive amounts of data are being used to deliver right here right now applications, that deliver a point service to people. However, there is missing expertise in the area of "mashups", delivering data from multiple sources to the end user, but I make the point that we need to recognize that somebody else's data may be able to fill the hole in your own data. A great example came up in a Community Health Service meeting--I suggested using tobacco taxes to determine smoking rates on a county by county basis, rather than worrying about a potential $30 million survey.