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Building web 3.0
The key to dealing not only with the problems of the present but also of the future, is building a more accessible internet, says American journalist and blogger Jeff Jarvis.
March 15, 2009 11:54 by Aarti Nagraj
Jeff Jarvis, the creator of Buzzmachine.com, spoke to Trends magazine during the recent World Economic Forum at Davos about blogging and the internet. Here are some excerpts from the interview.
How’s the online community faring in this downturn? What problems or opportunities is it causing on the web?
It’s the one place to see opportunity. What I hope to see at Davos is technology, entrepreneurship and maybe education. Nonetheless, advertising is down for everybody, including online, so newspapers that had some hope of seeing their online go up are now down, just like print. There’s going to be cutbacks there too. There are going to be start-ups that aren’t going to make it because the funds aren’t there. So, it’s not going to be all roses on the internet, but it will be better there than the automobile industry or banking.
The boom and bust cycle that we’ve gone through in the 1990s – of course the scale is different – but do you see commonalities between recent downturns and the one afflicting us today?
I was thinking about that and I guess the difference is that the boom in 2001 came from too much excitement, the boom now came from fraud. And I think that’s fundamentally different. The boom before affected only a few people. The boom this time affected the entire economy of the world. So I think it is different.
Do you mean that the collapse of the financial services sector is not fraud?
No, it is fraud because it was built on a leveraging that didn’t really exist. There was no value there. In Silicon Valley, you also have a belief in a value. But that happens – that’s companies, people are actually building things.
Where do we go from here? Not just as an online citizen, but as someone that looks at the world from a distance in some ways, where are we headed? Are we renouncing consumerism at one level? Are we becoming more engrossed in technology?
Robert Scoble, who’s a blogger here, said that we need to figure out how to start 10,000 companies. When we talk about bailouts, my view is that we need to use another cheap line. Right now, we are bailing out the past – we need to bail out the future. Instead of fixing potholes with government money we should be building broadband. We should be getting e-citizens on everywhere, building new educational devices, supporting new companies, taking risks in that way and not trying to fix the risks of the past.
It’s fine for me to say that, but I don’t have any bank loans or government money to give out. But I think we’ve got to have the leaders, and now it’s going to be government more than business. They have to have the courage to push that way.
Is blogging enough of a catharsis for a catastrophe of this scale?
No, probably not. But I think that’s an important question for the idea that the people have a voice now in a way that they didn’t have before. There was a survey in the US recently that said that 81 percent of Americans wish that they had written a book, probably because most of them didn’t get their wish. But we all want to create, we have something to say. We all want to have a voice, do something, so the mechanism is there. It can all open up the process of many things – of journalism, of media, of government – and let’s hope that [it] does that.
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