Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

It's (No Longer) Gray in L.A.

I’m headed down to Los Angeles tomorrow for a few days on a reporting trip–I know, freakish, a blogging reporter or a reporting blogger–to see folks at Fox Digital, Move.com and others, as well as go to a big Hollywood-style bash for online video site Joost tomorrow night.

There will be coverage of all that here, of course. And, it’s a good thing, as I like going south of Silicon Valley, because it is almost impossible to write about the digital sector now without having much more than a passing knowledge of the entertainment industry.

The sector has been undergoing wrenching changes for a while now, but it is only going to get worse–or better, depending on your perspective–for the industry as it moves forward. So many of the most exciting recent start-ups, such as Joost, are aimed directly at the heart of what Hollywood has been doing for so long now–distributing great content to consumers.

For a long time, the entertainment industry has been terrified of this. I will never forget when the first Internet bubble burst in about 2001, when a major Hollywood executive and I were having lunch and he said to me: “I am so glad that is over.” By that, he meant the Napsterization of content and all the Web activity that had so hurt the music industry as it was.

That was, of course, way before YouTube was a gleam in the eyes of Chad Hurley and Steve Chen and well before broadband penetration had finally gotten to a point where things could get interesting. Now Hollywood knows it is no longer a black-and-white fight, but mostly shades of gray.

At our recent D5 conference, for example, we featured a lot of old-media players, all of whom acquitted themselves well when talking about digital issues, especially compared to past performances. While not wholly embracing the changes, all of them were able to finally learn to almost love the Web.

So I have been planning to spend a lot of time there and in this column, getting to know the players who are moving this circus and art–as George Lucas called it–forward.


Still, L.A. can be disconcerting to some (although I have always loved it), so you might like to check out the video for Loudon Wainwright III’s marvelous “Gray in L.A.,” which you can see a video of here. The song is featured in a recent movie called “Knocked Up,” a comedy also set in L.A.

My favorite lyric? The first: “When it’s gray in L.A., I sure like it that way cuz there’s way too much sunshine around here./I don’t know about you, I get so sick of blue skies wherever they always appear.”

I could not agree more.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik