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tv   The Communicators  CSPAN  January 16, 2012 8:00pm-8:30pm EST

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>> we need to eliminate these entitlement programs. we need to cap them, cut them, cap them, send them back to the states, remove the federal oversights and let the states have the flexibility to deliver these programs. >> we have brought to the forefront. others a have token we talked about it again in office they do nothing about it but right now, liberty movement which is seen as a patriotic movement, and individual liberty movement that is saying to the country into the world, we have had enough of sending our kids and their money around the world to be the police of the world. it's time to bring them home. >> as candidates get their message out --
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>> we are so happy. >> thank you, thank you. thank you so much. >> we feel very good about that. the conservatives are coalescing around our campaign and that is going to be good for us in south carolina as we go for. >> find out more video at c-span.org/campaign 2012. >> this week on "the communicators," and "new york times" technology columnist, nick bilton, talks about the impact of technology on business and how technology has changed the media. >> host: and from time to time on "the communicators" we like to look into the future and look at some of the technology that they be coming down the road. joining us this week is nick bilton of "the new york times." he is a technology columnist and reporter with the times.
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mr. bilton what do you write about? >> guest: i write about anything to do with technology and business in the way technology is changing society and culture and i write about the big companies that are affecting what we are doing including apple, microsoft and smaller ones like twitter and facebook which is not necessarily small anymore but it's a technology and culture. >> host: when did you move to the san francisco area? >> guest: i am now a san francisco resident as the four months ago so i was in new york for 15 years on the east coast and i'm out here now enjoy the warmer weather. >> host: why did you move out there? >> guest: i've been in the city for 15 years and i've been a reporter for the paper for a couple of years now. before that i was in the research and development labs. my job was to look into the future but when i became a reporter there is definitely a burgeoning tech scene in new york with a lot of startups but also a whole different world out here was still a con valley we
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decided maybe it would be worth trying to come out here in exploring different opportunities as far as reporting does. it's really amazing to see, to go down to the valley and see these larger companies but also to see some other things that are happening in san francisco from a technology standpoint. >> host: to questions from your last answer. number one what are the research and development labs of "the new york times"? >> guest: the resource and development labs were started a few years ago on the idea was when you look at the paper you have all these reporters reporting daily stories and they are really embedded in what the natives and then you have the web development team that is actually producing the mobile web site and between those two there are so focused on the daily work that they don't actually get to look at things that are going to be coming down the road from two to 10 years down the road. the times digital group decided to start the research lab-based off something or find at m.i.t. or and y. u. i t. p. program and with the goal of kind of
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preparing you for the future and looking at what we can imagine the media world to look like in the next two to 10 years and so that was what we did. a small group of us, about 10 people or so, we would sit around and try to figure out okay well what happens when smartphones exist in everyone's home and television second talk to you or mirrors that can track where you are going and deliver news. then we started to build prototypes around that. >> host: are any of those prototypes in use by "the new york times" now? >> the data visualization projects where we tracked how people would come to the web site. one of the data projects we did was we tracked the day that michael jackson died, and we looked at who is coming to the web site and where they were coming from and how quickly the news and information spread. it is essentially a little data exercise and what was fascinating about that research was that we found that people around the globe discovered michael jackson passed away in a matter of minutes.
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it literally spread from new york to california to japan to africa in just a matter of minutes and we created this data map where you can actually see traffic coming to the site. it was actually funny because cnn wrote a story that said michael jackson dies and almost takes the internet with him because the news was spreading so quickly and that was one of the projects and now that is being used internally to track on a daily basis how stories are spreading on the social media. >> host: nick bilton did you find the a business the business models "the new york times" has use forever, are they all outdated and not just "the new york times" but other publishing companies and television stations? >> guest: i think business models are definitely outdated across all media platforms whether the newspaper, radio or of these different things and what you are seeing seeing some innovations happen are with blogs and startups in things like that. a perfect example of that is a
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lot of these technology don't have to deal with printing presses and multi-million dollar tv studios. they purchase things very differently and they don't just look at bringing in revenue based on advertising, but they look at different aspects and one of the things we are seeing is some sites where they have communities and they say okay you pay x dollars a month and you get access to our writers or specific papers that we published before anyone else. another thing you are seeing his conferences for example. the conference market has been around for many years but you know take a look at tech ron which is a technology blog based in new york and san francisco. 90% of their revenues come from conferences where they make billions of dollars from conferences doing interviews with people and so i think when you look at the media business model, it you shouldn't just look at the prescription and,
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subscription and advertising and classified. there could be a whole gamut of people -- things people can do to get money to these organizations. television is an interesting model because you have free over the air advertising with television. you have premium cable and pay-per-view and over-the-top or people can watch things on hulu at netflix and different ranges of way that people can get content in a way that makes the most sense for them. >> host: nick bilton as someone as your generation writes about technology do you subscribe to pay television in any way or do you watch television on the internet? >> guest: i do not. i have to cancel my cable year and a half ago. it was one of the greatest decisions i made because they tend to not, not only not consume cable television the way i did years ago, but it was expensive and really difficult to navigate with these remote controls. it was also, a lot of the
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content is really not that great. you have hundreds of channels where a lot of these tv shows are filling up space for the most part and i think a few really good shows. so what i do is, there are two things i do. at the computer hooked up to my television at home and i have this wireless mouse that looks almost like a doughnut and you can hold it in the air and move it around. i have a wireless keyboard too and so i will watch things on hulu or netflix or sometimes buy things from itunes or something like that. one of the things that really has changed is not necessarily how i watch mainstream content but the fact that i don't necessarily just watch mainstream content so when friends come over for dinner, we sit around the television afterwards, we don't turn on breaking better cnn. we actually pull up youtube and pass around the remote control and the keyboard and pool up clips we have seen throughout the week that we think are and just ignore funny or whatever they are. it becomes this very social way
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of watching the news for content on line. >> host: nick bilton you also mentioned earlier that you are rather amazed at seeing silicon valley and being exposed to it now on a regular basis. for somebody who hasn't been out there, hasn't seen its what would you tell them about silicon valley? >> guest: it's funny somebody, when i first came out here, somebody from twitter sent me a message and said welcome to baghdad by the bay which i didn't actually get it first and as a reference to an old report of the time. it really is essentially being embedded in a different country. john from from "the new york times" was after last week celebrating the expansion of the blog which i write for at the time and we were talking and looking around and showing him these different companies and met with these different people and he said it's potentially like the new english out here in our job as reporters have here is to translate happening. when you see some of these things that are going on out here and really kind of what the
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future looks like which i think you know, a lot of the projects that are being built in in the startups that are a couple of years ahead of where the mainstream will be you can really see how amazing and how much of a different language it has become when you look at technology and the way we interact with it. >> host: nick bilton is a columnist for the bits column in "the new york times," the bits section in "the new york times" and also a reporter on technology but he is also the author of a book from last year, "i live in the future and here's how it works" is the name of his book. mr. bilton what is dog food in? >> guest: it's a term that people use and what it means is you eat your own dog food essentially so when google built gmail, they actually required all of their developers that work there to use gmail and it's essentially called dog food in. you build a product and you use it yourself.
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>> host: why do you use that term and how did you beat your own dog food for "the new york times" are not e. her own dog food? >> guest: one of the things i try to do is practice what i preach. when i came to the times as a reporter i did have a traditional reporting background. i studied documentary film courses but i didn't have the traditional journalism background that a lot of journalists had and i approached becoming a reporter there as something almost like starting a startup and so you know, i do what i do on line in the paper so i have a conversation with leaders. i am constantly in the social media, twitter, facebook, goggle + some of these things to reach out to readers. i asked them questions and let them know about breaking news. and i kind of follow the narrative all the way through no matter what the story is. i think that is something very different than the print model for you write the story and the only way that anyone can
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communicate with a reporter back in the day was to write a letter to the editor. that was a little column in the back that was edited and so on. just the narrative changes when you can actually have a conversation with your readers. it's also, dog fooding a way that i don't just think about things in words. if i'm updating my twitter or facebook account i'm not just writing words. i am putting photos, videos and interesting links and things like that and i do the same thing with reporting right take photos or create graphics or shoot videos or whatever makes the most sense for that story. >> host: what kind of feedback do you get from readers? >> guest: the feedback is great. readers love being a part of a conversation. they can now do that and of course there are some angry readers that don't like some of the things that i write but for the most part they feedback is really good. one of the things that i found this helpful to the readers and myself is if i'm interviewing
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someone, let's say i'm interviewing bill gates and i ask him first of its okay but i will send a tweet and update my facebook and say i'm interviewing while gates and do you have questions you would like me to ask him? questions from the readers and inevitably i will ask them and make it into a story and so there's this arc of the narrative to follow through where the reader is not just reading but also participating and i think that it's been really helpful. >> host: in your book, "i live in the future and here's how it works," one of the opening stories you tell is how you no longer subscribe to the print edition of the paper. >> guest: yeah. it was an interesting experience. when i first started at the time i remember one of the most exciting parts was the fact that i could get the sunday paper on saturdays. they printed an early version called the bulldog which is actually rented on saturday mornings and i used to ride my bike over to the times bureau and the main headquarters and
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wait for the print edition to come. i would run home and devour it and friends found out about it and they started asking me and i was essentially coming back with piles of newspapers. all of a sudden a lot of my friends stop asking me to give them the sunday paper and i stopped getting it. by daily newspaper started to pile up. it wasn't that i wasn't reading the times. i just wasn't reading it in that capacity and what i started doing was reading it on my ee reader and reading it on my computer and mobile phone and consuming it differently, and so i decided i know longer wanted to get the paper product but wanted to consume it on the digital devices. it is definitely differential for me to have it follow me essentially on the devices that i used. but it still not that way for a lot of readers, the million people that still subscribe on a daily basis. >> host: how did you cancel
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your subscription? >> guest: i had to call to the newsroom and i remember i was very nervous about it. i didn't know of somebody i knew would pick up the phone on the other end and i called an ice canceled and they tried to convince me otherwise. luckily it wasn't someone i knew but i disguised my voice and it was quite funny. >> host: when the news came out that you canceled your papers attrition what was the reaction from "the new york times"? >> guest: it wasn't good. i was interviewed by wired wired for a speech or story they were doing on the research i had done and the research in the research labs and at the end of the interview the reporter in the classical said hey by the way do you still read the print paper? i said no actually i don't. i read the product called the times reader which we have developed in times reader was an application for tablets before the ipad, where it looked just like a newspaper experience but individual formats. i said i read it on the times
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reader and the lead of this wired article was newspapers you can't stand, and it got picked up all over the place and it was definitely an interesting response. in the end the times recognized that i was essentially kind of the next generation of reader and that they you know needed to listen to what i had to say in what other reporters at the paper aren't necessarily reading the print experience had to say. that is a testament to having the research lab and having them build the ipad an iphone apps and all these different things and i think they are definitely aware of that. >> host: nick bilton and -- in your book and in your columns you talk about the me generation. what do you mean by that? >> guest: there are a couple of different things to that. one of the things that has happened is we get things that are essentially smart and they understand what we want. i may want to watch a tv show on my iphone.
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you may want to watch it on the 72-inch plasma television. somebody else may want to watch on their laptop and what digital affords us the ability to do that, whatever is preferential to you and whether it's television content or video or news articles and it really, it is really summed up in the way we consume content these days on these different devices. that is one of the beauties of digital i think in the same respect also a term i talk about in the book called me economics where you have a lot of kids that if they would have gone let's say 20 years ago, if you went to a bookstore and you purchased the book and you didn't like it, you could have returned it, the same way with a video or clothing or whatever it is. on the digital world you can't do that. it's one of the flaws of the way we build systems. if i buy a song from itunes and it turns out i don't like it, i'm stuck with it so what you are seeing is a lot of kids who have taken this into their
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own hands and what i called economics were they say do you know what, i lost this -- bought this lost it last album and in the physical world i be able to return it so in the digital world i'm going to quote steal the next version of this album i get to balance things out a little bit. >> host: the subtitle of your book is, why your world, work and brain are being creatively disrupted. you have chapter here on surgeons and video games. what is that about? >> guest: well so one of the things, one of the reasons i wrote the book was in response to a lot of looks and articles out there that are saying the internet is bad for technology is bad for us and i didn't agree. one of the reasons for that is because i've had a computer since i was four years old. i had my first atari when i was five years old. i have essentially grown up in the digital world and i think i turned out okay. some people might argue otherwise but in reality there is no evidence that says these
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things are bad for us so i started to do some research into what happens with their brains when we are using devices, using iphones and ipads and things like that and i spoke to neuroscientists across the country. there were a couple of things i discovered. first of all i will talk about the video games. there's an assumption that videogames are bad for us but there's a tremendous amount of research that says they are very good for us so the research done at the rochester institute of technology, they found that kide visual acuity of someone -- better eye-hand coordination better long-term and short-term working memory and along with other things. there was research done in california around people that played tetris and they found the same results, where their memory was better after playing tetris for a little while and all these different things. and so video games are at different form of storytelling
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and they are not bad and they are not going to replace books are replaced movies. they are just a new form of the way we consume content and to say that they are bad is completely inaccurate and as far as the surgeons, there was research done it at nyu where they found that surgeons that played video games were actually, laparoscopic surgeons are 40% faster and i believe 40% more accurate than those that don't. the other aspect of that too is when you look at the argument that the digital devices are bad for us the epiphany i had at the moment, this ah-ha moment when i was looking at marion was's research and she is a neuroscientist that specializes in language. at the beginning of her book she said she came to the realization that the human brain was never designed to read. we are actually not designed to read. something we have to train our brains to do so when you say devices are bad for us and video games are bad for us and we should be reading books, our brains were never designed to do
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that either. it's creating this new form of storytelling. >> host: you also look at the -- as it cutting-edge industry. >> guest: the porn industry has been at the forefront of a lot of technology since thousands and thousands of years. i actually found from a friend who works at nature the science magazine, the porn industry was at the forefront of business back in the days of pompeii selling statues in the markets, statues of course and the porn industry has always been an innovator when it comes to technology. the reason for that is because a lot of governments and officials and religious leaders have always tried to suppress the porn industry so they have actually had to figure out ways to make money and reach consumers by going around the rules of the day. when you look at the printing press, you know there were two of the most popular books in the early days, the printing press,
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one of course was the bible and the other was actually a book that was essentially tales. and so you can follow it all the way through the porn industry when it came to dvds to cds to the internet. in the early days of the web, there were people that were using it for e-mails, science journals and of course there was. knowing all this i went out to california and interviewed a lot of companies and what i found was the larger organizations that "playboy," the penthouse's of the world had gone out of business and they had been purchased and gone bankrupt and were tens of millions of dollars in the hole where as you have this whole group of very small startups startups if you will that had started to create content and sell it to a very small audience. so almost a character to a certain degree but the content they were creating was people were paying for it and what i
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found was just like we are seeing with the media world today where you have a lot of these larger news organizations and magazines and so on, that are having trouble continuing the revenue they have had in the past, you have the smaller logs starting up and saying well we don't need to have the printing press or a big new studio. we can do this from our bedroom even and reach the same audience with the same quality and content. >> host: nick bilton, if the occupy wall street movement a good example of how facebook and twitter are much more powerful than say a "new york times" editorial as far as motivating people? >> guest: well, as far as motivating people i would definitely agree with that. as far as influence i don't know if i would definitely agree with that. i think they're both equally powerful to a degree. the occupy wall street movement was not started by "the new york times." it was started by ad busters which is a magazine, very
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liberal magazine. it was perpetuated by people and you can see this. it's just amazing to see. there is occupy wall street in every country around america. their occupy wall street around the world. i was in madrid this week and watching twitter and i was watching youtube videos from l.a. and san francisco in all these different occupied areas and outside my bedroom i hear all this -- here all this yelling and i look out and there is an occupy wall street protest protested in front of me in madrid. you can see this global event taking place and how quickly it has spread. there are two aspects to it. one is it was only started in october and it is now everywhere. and the other aspect to it is that in the past, i think they kind of relied on the media to be the ones to be the watchdogs and i think that is still of the world of media but people are part of that now too. the devices we carry around in
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our pockets, these little cell phones, essentially everyone can reach the same number of people that "the new york times" can the right content. we are seeing that with some of the action that the police are taking. there was a veteran that was beaten by police in occupied oakland recently. that video went viral on the internet and you can see it with with the you see davis events that took place last week where the police officer pepper sprayed a lunch of students sitting on the floor which is also changing the movement. what we are seeing happening is this ricocheting of the news between mainstream media and people involved in occupy wall street where they are helping actually perpetuate the conversations together. >> host: you often write about her small experiences when you write your column nick bilton and one of them was when he moved out to the west coast in you wrote, moved the books or leave them. >> guest: a difficult decision and one that definitely generated quite a bit of discussion but i was packing up
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my stuff to move to san francisco and i have these piles and piles of hooks. i asked myself, do i want to bring these out or for the most part they literally sat on a bookshelf in my living room for the past few years. all the new books that i buy are on my kindle or my ipad. i don't remember the last time i bought a print book. and so was it worth it to ship all these things out, the money would cost in the gas, however they would have gone out there for them to set on a bookshelf again out in california. i decided eventually to take about 10% and leave 90%. >> host: nick bilton you wrote a recent column, there is no data-sharing in the wild west. >> guest: one of the things i really have been reporting on over the last year is the lack of oversight essentially when it comes to privacy on the internet. facebook has more information about people around
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the world than any government agency could even dream of and there is nobody that is regulating them. one of the reasons this came up is early this year, sony was hacked and 77 million, sorry, 77 million people's personal information was essentially compromised by hackers. part of the reason for that was some -- sony had outdated servers and the reason for that was because there were no rules or regulations has said that they had to. so there was no slap on the wrist, there was no, no one got in any kind of trouble and sony got essentially could happen with any company. part of the reason for this was because there is no legislation and this is a real problem. this is a tectonic shift that happened on line where people's privacy is no longer owned by
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the currency we use to get access to facebook for free or gmail and i think it's a real problems that we are going to see the effect of over the next few years as more and more people's content and information and personal information is taken at adage of. >> host: but aren't most people nick bilton aware but they are providing to these companies in doing so willingly and aren't silicon valley companies reluctant, or pushing back against any legislative efforts? >> guest: so i don't think people are aware. if you go into google and you type a search or something personal like prostate cancer, google stores that search and unless you tell them otherwise not to. if you are part of a group on facebook that is maybe a religious group or whatever it is, facebook knows that knowledge and a lot of people i don't think are aware that these things are happening. in fact, i recently las

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