D Conference: highlights reel

  • Walt Mossberg asked CBS CEO Les Moonves about Al Gore’s critique of television culture in his new book, The Assault on Reason. “Gore said that TV in general has basically destroyed American democracy. He says the Internet is the hope –”

    Moonves interrupted: “That’s because he created it.”

    Mossberg grimaced. There was not a single laugh in the room.

    It is one sign of hope for the world today that this dead old line — discredited eons ago — now evokes only contempt.

    Meanwhile, here is Moonves’s stirring defense of his medium against the complaint that TV caters to too much of our love for celebrity news at the expense of more pressing issues: “I think there are other things that may have hurt the fabric of democracy more than the media.”

  • Time Inc. boss Ann Moore said that this past year the company crossed the Rubicon: its magazines can now see how to make money online, and — no longer weighted down by the internal civil war with AOL — they’re rushing headlong into the new medium.

    According to Moore, Time’s editorial staff are beginning to have the exact experience I and my colleagues did back in 1995 when we moved from the newspaper world to the Web: the flood of reaction from readers is energizing in a way you can’t imagine until you experience it.

    “The really big breakthrough is, editorial drank the koolaid,” Moore said. “The people leading the charge are the writers. You used to hang around the mailroom waiting for letters to the editor, and when you realized you could write online and get thousands of responses from readers… Writers also like how they’re edited less heavily online, she added.

  • Jason Calacanis’s “human-powered search” startup, Mahalo, intends to take the opposite of the “long tail” approach: call it the “fat head” of search. (Or maybe not.) Mahalo is hiring editors to create human-filtered search results for the top 10,000 search terms — which, Calacanis said, account for 24% of all English language search. The idea is to defeat search spam and help people get the best results from the general queries that Google doesn’t always handle elegantly.

    It’s ambitious, and Calacanis says he has money to keep it up for five years. But isn’t it just Yahoo circa 1995 — or DMOZ? How will its results keep up with the dynamically changing Web? How will it scale? I wouldn’t write it off, but I wouldn’t bet on it, either.

  • Jeff Hawkins, co-creator of the original Palm, unveiled a new gadget called Foleo. It’s theoretically intended to be a companion to Treos and other smartphones: it’s a laptop-like device, two pounds, with a full-size keyboard and a nerly full-size screen. It syncs email wirelessly with the smartphone. It’s got no hard drive or optical drive, but it’s a full Linux-based system, with wireless, an Opera browser, and other basic applications. It’s instant-on and has all-day battery life. But its processor is too slow for good video playback.

    The D crowd was distinctly unimpressed. But for a journalist on the road, it looks like a great e-mail and note-taking machine. I don’t even have a smartphone, but for $500, I could see wanting one of these. And, hey, you even got a Trackpoint without springing a fortune for a Thinkpad.

  • Don’t miss five minutes of Steven Colbert cocking a snoot at the conference’s collection of moguls and plutocrats while ostensibly introducing his boss, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman. Demanding true broadband, Colbert attempts to sip a chocolate cake through a fiber-optic cable.
  • [tags]d5, d conference, foleo, jeff hawkins, philippe dauman, stephen colbert, mahalo, jason calacanis, les moonves, ann moore, time inc., viacom, cbs[/tags]

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    1. Moonves: “I think there are other things that may have hurt the fabric of democracy more than the media.”

      Such as…? (Or is that your point– that’s all he said?)


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