Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Engineers Are From Mars, Media Moguls Are From Venus

And can they ever get along?

At the SIIA Information Summit yesterday, New Yorker writer Ken Auletta, who recently did a piece on Google, noted:

We’re in an engineering culture. You couldn’t put a [Rupert] Murdoch or a [Michael] Eisner in charge of a company like that. It’s been tried. Terry Semel led Yahoo. I just spent some time with Google engineers. I couldn’t understand a thing they were saying. I don’t think [Semel] understood the engineers’ language, so he couldn’t challenge them. I suspect that’s one reason he didn’t last.”


Auletta is right, and it is an increasingly interesting issue as we move forward with the hyper-digitization of content.

While, for example, the use of online video increases exponentially, how big an audience can be created for any one property without the kind of intense programming and marketing that the entertainment industry is famous for?

On the other hand, is an increasingly massive reliance on e-metrics–the ability to minutely tell and even predict what an online audience wants by their clicking and being perfected by engineers at widget companies like Slide–the right direction?

I have no idea, but the delta is one that needs bridging.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work