My 2 cents on the newsgang – what Steve should do next


I know, I know, I happen to sneak in to one show and now I’m the expert. The truth is I do have a vested interest in the Gang continuing it’s weekly discussions in that I feel like am sitting at the middle of at least one of the junctions that makes the gang so interesting: between the enterprise (I work for an enterprise software company, although not one any member of the gang may recognize as such) and the cloud (I agree with the meme that just as PC’s came in to mainstream business use from the consumers, so too is widespread use of the cloud for ‘real business’ will be dirven by individuals use of things like Google docs). So all of these thoughts/comments are offered in the hope that there may be some gold in here and it will help to keep it going just a while longer so I can learn a thing or two more.
In Steve’s recent post on the new NewsGang Live show and it’s purpose in the greater scheme of things, he brings up a few points about the weekly Gang show. I’ve thought about a couple of them:
The old media / new media clash. This is part of the show you have to keep (like you didn’t know that), but I think you have to establish at least a basic level of respect between the members.. I’m not talking Robert’s rules of order here, but just a basic rule of, I don’t have to have something fantastic to say about every topic and when I don’t have something to say, it also doesn’t mean I can withdraw into the corner and not participate in the next topic . Mike and Jason can’t just torpedo every discussion from Dan or Dana because they think it’s boring (i.e. about mufflers). The old media types can rely on their reputation to gain attention for what they have to say, but the new media types seem to resort to spectacle as the basis for paying attention to what they have to say. Neither one is ‘the right way’, but the new media approach if left without ground rules will overpower the old media approach and you get Gang XI part 1. I know this will be tough because if you go too far you loose the passion and the energy, but I really do think if the
Enterprise technology and Web 2.0. Allow me to channel Nick Carr for a minute. If all of IT is migrating to a utility model, then perhaps what is going on in the intersection of the enterprise and web 2.0 spaces is similar to what happened more than a century ago with Edison/Westinghouse and appliances. In the late 1880’s there was front page news generated from the battle between Edison’s DC electric system and Westinghouse’s AC system. Edison was a master with the press and he staged elaborate ‘demos’ where he showed the public the dangers of AC (at one point electrocuting an elephant). There was a general interest in how this was going to play out and what might be possible once widespread electricity became available. Flash forward 120 years and I bet you couldn’t find 1 in 10 people that know the difference between AC and DC. Power is just here. It’s taken for granted. Sure, there are specific audiences today that are really interested in the latest in power generation (in fact there may be more today than 10 years ago with the surging interest in green power), but that is .001% the size of the audience that is interested in the latest toaster. Is that the way it should be – who knows, but that’s the way it is.
So what’s the show going to be about: generators or toasters (which I like better that Ferrari’s and mufflers analogy working for an enterprise company – the price points are more analogous too)? Generators are important, but know one gives much thought to them. Toasters are interesting (I saw one that can cook and egg while it’s toasting my bagel), but relatively fashion prone and short lived. Maybe the way to keep it going is to get some of the purveyors of the generators and toasters on as guests and have them talk about some of the interdependencies? Or maybe you just need to sit down with Mike and Jason and explain to them how the enterprise decisions being made now will impact what’s possible on the Web2.0 side for the next century. After all the toasters we all use today would look far different if Mr. Edison had convinced the nation (and the world) to go with DC by toasting elephants with Mr. Westinghouse’s AC.

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Whatever the answer ends up being, I hope that Steve can find a way to keep it all together. It continues to be one of the most genuine conversations in the tech (and sometime political) space.






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