Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Sundancing With the (Tech) Stars

BoomTown is headed to the 2009 Sundance Film Festival today, an annual journey I make to moderate panels about the tech industry.

The festival officially opened yesterday in Park City, Utah. And while still largely a confab of independent filmmakers, Hollywood deal types and various celebrities rifling though swag orgies, a lot of geeks are there too.

Since Sundance also has taken a keen interest in all things digital, ATD moves its HQ there for a few days every January, to the New Frontier on Main digs, to talk to those gathered–for what have become standing-room-only events–about whither tech and how and when it is eventually going to eat the entertainment industry’s lunch.

Oh yes, my friend: Silicon Valley will eat lunch in this snowy town again!

And for good reason, given that the entire movie industry has long worried about how digital distribution will impact its business, especially as every year, the encroachment continues at a relentless pace.

This year, we’re going even more futuristic, with a panel tomorrow at noon titled, “Where Do We Go From Here? Icons of the Digital Age.”

In fact, the panelists are that: Chad Hurley, the co-founder and CEO of the Google (GOOG) video service, YouTube; Jason Kilar, CEO of Hulu, the premium online video service that is a joint venture of News Corp. (NWS) and GE (GE) unit NBC Universal; and Reed Hastings, founder and CEO of Netflix (NFLX), the largest online DVD rental service, which has been moving into an ever wider range of distribution of movies on the Web. (News Corp. is the owner of Dow Jones and this Web site.)

Here’s the panel description:

“Remember the world before the Internet, email, and cell phones? Now we try and picture it 15 years from now. If we are currently in the greatest information revolution since the printing press, what can we expect next? How will media, entertainment, and our digital lifestyles change? This roundtable assembles visionaries of the digital revolution to discuss the limits of our imagination.”

It should be an interesting exercise in creative prognostication, although I for one cannot remember the world before the Internet, email and cellphones.

I am also dragging my two young sons there, along with ATD majordomo Ed, so expect lots of filming of our own, with my shaky Flip Mino, to be posted all weekend.

Until then, here’s one of the two videos I did last year, including an interview with MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe and a visit to the trendy party he threw on Main Street with my celebrity friend Jane Lynch as tour guide (and she’ll be back this year for another special guest star appearance!):

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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