The PC Forum of Love continued Monday morning with the official start of the conference. Forum chief Esther Dyson kicked the show off (with an engineer's hat, pitching Berkley software product Espresso, set at a rakish angle on her head) with a teary thank you to all the folks that sucked up to her last night. With that, she turned the show over to Jerry Michalski, managing editor of Release 1.0 newsletter, who led us through an hour-and-a-half of "metaphor" discussions.
Linguistics Professor George Lakoff gave us a 20-minute marketing 101 presentation about metaphors and how we all see the world using metaphors. (Business is war, love is a journey, etc.) After that masterful presentation of the obvious, he railed on for a few minutes about how education and money should never be linked. He was then joined by Roger Black of The Interactive Bureau and @Home, and Kyle Shannon of Agency.Com for an hour and 10 minutes of Q&A.; As one wag put it afterward, it was a great half-hour panel that unfortunately dragged on for an hour-and-a-half.
As usual, the half-hour break was tons of fun, as attendees jockeyed for position to ensure that they were talking to just the right person.
The next session was actually quite interesting. Esther interviewed both Steve Case from AOL and Michael Bloomberg from Bloomberg. Some great ideas came out here, and you can listen to our post-show interview with Michael Bloomberg at www.pcweek.com/sr/roadsr.html. Bloomberg, specifically, cast aspersions everywhere around the "living Web," stating that the community built around Pamela Anderson Lee of "Baywatch" was stronger and more pervasive than anything the Web was likely to come up with. People want to be entertained, he insisted. Sure, a small subset want to be informed and will search for news and content, but most people just want to sit back and be titillated. Niche markets will become more important, especially when it comes to news because the demand for news is small anyway. The Wall Street Journal, for instance, is losing readership rapidly.
Esther usually prides herself on PC Forum's interactive nature, but rather than allow the normal raft of audience questions for Case and Bloomberg, she simply gathered up questions and then parceled them out to the guests. I guess interactivity is fertilizing the garden at this year's PC Forum.
The final session was devoted to the products here at PC Forum. They've broken up the demo areas into "Pods," with Pod guides to help attendees understand the products. Pods range from group gaming, to 3-D, to physical and conceptual space. We spent most of the session coming up with alternate names for the Pod guides (Pod People, Pod Brownies, Pod Pals, Podsters--you get the picture). Interestingly enough, most of the Pod activity for the remainder of the day centered around the multi-player game area--if you haven't played networked Command and Conquer, you haven't lived!
Finally, six new products debuted. The presentations lasted only five minutes and were noticeably short on details. The main goal, apparently, was to lure us attendees to their hour-long presentations, 12 of which were to run simultaneously in the afternoon. You can see more details on those products in PC Week's PC Forum special report (www.pcweek.com/sr/roadsr.html) and on ZDNN (www5.zdnet.com/zdnn/personal.html).
I checked out most of those products this afternoon, along with a relatively small percentage of showgoers. It's amazing how such a forward-thinking group of people like those at Rel 1.0 can come up with such a boring group of losers. Although slightly interesting, I doubt many of them will become mainstream businesses. Oh well, at least I have tonight to look forward to ... writer Michael Crichton, of "Jurassic Park" fame, will be speaking at the dinner!