Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

BoomTown, the Sequel

Well, hello there. I’m back. Or, more specifically, BoomTown is back. Now don’t get too excited all at once.

Actually, it’s almost as if I never left. When I started this column, which originally appeared weekly in the print edition of The Wall Street Journal and debuted on Feb. 28, 2000, I chronicled a heady dinner at the TED conference, the annual get-together of smarty-pants people in Monterey, Calif. My first paragraph:

Like a lot of things in the frothy Internet world, it didn’t take long for an annual get-together at one of the industry’s trendiest conferences to show mind-boggling growth–in this case a change in its name from the Millionaires’ Dinner to the Billionaires’ Dinner.

Good lord. Thank goodness, that’s over.

Ok, it’s not, but at least the focus–save for an occasional idiotic magazine cover, like this recent one shown below–has changed a bit more to dwell on less silly stuff and instead highlight the ceaseless and insistent march of Internet technologies into the mainstream.

Kevin Rose Looking Very 1999

That is what we will be trying to do most of the time here, attempting to figure out what is happening in the digital space and explaining it in a way that is clear and cogent. Back in this column’s early days, I definitely had a lot of material to work with, from Bill Gates’ eternal quest to convince the world that the tablet PC was going to dominate (still waiting for that to happen) to various schemes to create a sustained entertainment “hit” on the Net (still waiting for that to happen, too, and, as amusing as its stuff can be, JibJab does not count) to the Perils of Pauline saga of AOL (and, of course, we are all still waiting for that perpetual train wreck to end).

But, with all that is going on today, I think there has never been a better time to observe this arena. Whether it be the continued hypergrowth of social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace or the struggles of the Web’s old guard like Yahoo and eBay to remain relevant or, most of all, the instant proliferation of video and audio, as evidenced by the recent horror show produced in QuickTime by the obviously deranged student who killed dozens at Virginia Tech last week that was ubiquitous instantly (pardon me for not linking to his self-absorbed rant, but you can find it on your own without my help), the story of the Web remains riveting.

So I am glad to revive BoomTown and take it from its print deep freeze to the warmer climate of the blogosphere. I hope it can thrive here. Much like the Web, which I predicted would recover from its seemingly fatal swoon, back in a BoomTown column on Dec. 31, 2001, when I wrote:

Don’t count tech out. It has managed to bounce back reliably many times before and will again. The Web, for example, is neither dead nor the most important thing ever. Start to think of the Internet like electricity and you’re on the right track. It’ll be everywhere and necessary, but invisible.

I hope I don’t become invisible, though it’s definitely nice to be back in any form.

But enough looking back: On to the next thing.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald