nov 12

ONA, Part I


People like me (go ahead, try to image that category) are innately suspicious of media moguls. Or at least that's what I like to say. In reality, I probably just lower the bar for all CEOs, and then like to feign "pleasant surprise" when I discover they know what they're talking about. Okay, I'm a punk.

For instance, you (watch me shift the blame from me to you) probably wouldn't expect the President of the stodgy Associated Press to be able to cite Lawrence Lessig, Craig's List, Technorati, RSS, TiVo, and in one breath. And, again if you're like me, you're left unsure if that's reassuring for digital media when he does.

Tom Curley, the President and CEO of AP, was the keynote speaker at the Online News Association conference here in Hollywood. Unlike previous presentations, Curley took this opportunity to get somewhat theoretical ("the message is the medium") and a bit boosterish ("established brands will continue to be important"). Overall, he set the pace for the stage we're at in this industry -- excited, but cautious; intrigued, but slightly jaded; smart, but wary of being too smart.

Curley outlined a "critical but subtle revolution" that he labeled "Web 2.0" Tired? Yes. Cutesy? A bit. But when he starts tossing around quips like "content will be more important than the container," you're both impressed that he gets it, but also wonder if Wonkette might be typing a dismissive screed in the back of the room. (Programming note: Wonkette takes the stage tomorrow. I hope she's at the bar tonight though. How do you think Ana Marie likes her martinis?)

"You can no longer control the containers. You have to let the content flow where the users want to go," Curly says, and I quickly glance around the room to see if everyone see the importance of this.

Beyond theory-speak (at one point, he even used the word disintermediation), Curley seemed to come down pro-blogger but anti-search engine. Perhaps that's just the old canard of knowing your audience. Bloggers are everywhere here, and Google (who some newsies still conceive as an foe of online media) is nowhere to be seen.

More updates coming...

Additional Notes & Quotes From Curley's Keynote:

+ "In Web 2.0, discrete pieces of content -- stories, photos and video clips -- all categorized and branded, will be dis-assembled from whatever presentation you create and magically re-assembled on the PC desktop, the mobile device or TV set-top box, for consumption on demand."

+ "If this sounds like all the predictions you've heard all these years, you're almost right."

+ "A story is sum of many valuable parts."

+ "The news as a lecture gives way to news as a conversation."

+ In the Q&A period, someone quoted Curley's use of the word disintermediation. This is so disintermediated.

+ When someone from the thanked Curley for AP's clickable election maps, the crowd clapped. Let's hear it for clickable maps!

+ Post.

+ Official Conference Blog.

+ AP story.

+ ONA Posts Entire Speech (thereby pretty much ruining my entire post).

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