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Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Forget Cleantech — It’s Cleanweb at SXSW

Earlier this week, I slogged through the rain in a very dorkish GroupMe plastic poncho at SXSW in Austin to attend what I thought was one of the more interesting sessions, titled “Why Cleanweb Will Beat Cleantech.”

Perhaps because it was not yet another creepy location app (memo to Banjo and Highlight users, please stop attempting to get me to allow you to stalk me, cuz I ain’t!), it was more sparsely attended.

But the presentation by longtime Silicon Valley entrepreneur Sunil Paul was a good one, given his premise that current information technology tools were at the heart of creating solutions around energy conservation.

The founder of Brightmail — and also the first start-up partner of Zynga CEO and founder Mark Pincus at a Washington, D.C., company called Freeloader (where I first met the pair) — thinks that clean technologies like solar can be better leveraged with Cleanweb, which he defined as the “application of information technology to resource constraints.”

In other words, more Airbnb (fewer hotel rooms mean less carbon emissions), more Zappos (fewer stores, less driving to stores, etc.) and more teleconferencing (that’s easy to grok) is evidence that the Cleanweb could be an important contributor to saving the planet.

Quoting a recent tweet he saw, Paul noted that a smartphone today has as much computing power as the computers that put a man on the moon, but all we do with them is launch birds into pigs.

“I am saying we can do something better with the aggressive application of software technology,” he said.

Actually, those Angry Birds are now in space, too.

In any case, here’s Paul’s interesting deck from the talk:



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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