Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

DEMOfall Debate: What's Next?

I was down in San Diego last night for the closing panel of DEMOfall, which took place after two days of wall-to-wall quickie presentations from scads of tech start-ups.

demo

After all of them showed off their latest wares, the panelists and I were charged with telling the crowd what’s next.

Besides me, the motley crew included: Scott Sangster, director of strategic planning and development for Walt Disney Internet Group; Ed Baig, personal tech columnist of USA Today; and John Jordan, executive director of the Center for Digital Transformation at the Smeal College of Business at Pennsylvania State University. The panel was moderated by John Gallant, president and editorial director of Network World.

I did a video right on stage at the event, with little snippets of the pontificating, which you can see below. I also chatted a little with DEMO Executive Producer Chris Shipley.

It was a lively discussion, looking at a number of trends, such as hype around social networking, still-terrible cellphone technology and also a bit about how tech is not going to necessarily help the enterprise space. Baig even talked about personal force fields and surfing the Web using your mind, which–though fanciful–was a cool idea.

One woman in the crowd was unhappy we were not more definitive about what’s coming, which was a kind of backhanded compliment, given that–in truth–none of us could actually do more than guess at what’s next.

As I noted on the panel, could anyone years ago have anticipated the weird explosion in the popularity of YouTube, except in very general terms about video getting big someday? Or what of all the hype around Facebook?

The fact of the matter is no one knows in the tech sector, as in most parts of life, what’s coming around the corner, except getting opaque glimpses now and then and confusing clues.

But if anyone is developing a personal force field, please let me know asap.

If you want to read more about the event, here is a good summary of some of the 69 companies presenting by ComputerWorld on Tuesday and yesterday. No surprise in that there was lots of social networking and video tech, with a dash of enterprise thrown in.

You can also see videos of the demos on the main DEMOfall site here.

Here’s the video:


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus