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SXSW 2011 ‘The Power of the International Geek Community’ and Sound-Bites with Tim O’Reilly

SXSW 2011 ‘The Power of the International Geek Community’ and Sound-Bites with Tim O’Reilly

I’m at the Austin Convention Center as SXSW “Day 1″ is officially underway. Parking was almost a nightmare, but I narrowly escaped the loop-around by finding an open lot on 7th & Trinity, phew. On the way in, I spotted one of Chris Sacca’s latest ventures—Uber Cab. I had seen him tweet that Uber was making its debut in the Austin market during SXSW.

While awaiting keynote speakers, or interview rather, with the amazing Tim O’Reilly (O’Reilly Media) by Jason Calacanis in Ballroom D on Level 4, everybody is friendly and opening up conversations centered around technology and living. For example, the two guys next to me are talking about the latest trends in education-based technology, Bill Gates, and The Food Network.

The opening remarks from the SXSW camp centered around “The power of the international geek community,” and indeed, that is the feeling of the day and perhaps the week here as the SXSW Interactive, Film & Music Conference rolls on. As well, SXSW has set up relief efforts for Japan, hoping to raise $10,000 this week. To donate, please visit SXSW4Japan. Yes, the power of the international geek community is alive.

Soundbites with Tim O’Reilly Interviewed by Jason Calacanis:

Tim O’Reilly is the founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, Inc., thought by many to be the best computer book publisher in the world, and O’Reilly says, “We started with short books on drill-down docs on UNIX, which had no documentation at the time. My early career was full of happy accidents that came from ignorance.”

In speaking about brands, Tim O’Reilly says, “Brands have an integrity, it’s not just something you can tape on.” When asked by Calacanis, “What do you think makes a brand,” O’Reilly says, “First, great brands have a core. Big ideas are like a train—the locomotive has to be going places that a lot of people want to go. Make heroes out of new people and create an identity. Inclusiveness—you matter—you are part of the future.”  As well, O’Reilly says, “There has to be truth to it.”

Calacanis asks, “What’s it mean for the internet to become a platform?”

O’Reilly says, “Everyone was familiar with the world of hardware as the source of value. Hardware became a commodity,” which generated software. The future, the internet as a platform, means “consumer generated content = Web 2.0. Ebay survived because it created a network of meaning and data. User contribution translated to success. If there was a Web 3.0, it’s not going to be about what people would type, it would be built around a sensor. I have some big ideas about the future and where it is going. I look for news stories that reflect this future idea and I report on it. …I’m bad about caring about money, I’m good about caring about ideas.”

Calacanis asks, “What’s your favorite startup?”

O’Reilly says, “Terry Jones Fluidinfo because I’m not sure it’s going to work. [Audience laughs.] It’s not the entrepreneur that’s chasing the big bucks, it’s the one chasing the big idea.”

O’Reilly says, “My original business plan was interesting work, for interesting people,” and when asked about politics and government, he goes on to say, “Let me make a distinction between politics and government. I’m not interested in politics, but I am interested in making government better. We are governed by laws that we cannot read. We are like a vending machine government, put something in (a good), get something out (a service), but it doesn’t work, it’s flawed. What if government operated more like a platform? Ronald Reagan was the father of Four Square.”

“We are being bankrupt by our medical system. What if our healthcare system worked more like Google? When asked by Calaconis what his political affiliation was, O’Reilly says, “I’m an independent, I want to see people who have ideas and passion.”

Calaconis asks, “What would you do with our energy policy?”

O’Reilly says, “I have sympathy for how hard it is to drive large companies. What I love about great tech companies is they have values. The energy policy has been fatally broken in this country since Jimmy Carter. I really do think there is some civilization changing things in our future. …We need a hell of a lot of more engineers handling our energy policy.”

A few questions from the audience about the future of technology wrap up the interview, with Tim O’Reilly ending on a program now in place that was officially (fully) launched in 2011, called Code For America. O’Reilly says, “Code For America—geeks who are donating a year of public service to the government. 2011 is the first full year of operation.”

Yes, the power of the international geek community is alive.

PS: Tim O’Reilly supports the “punk rock idea of conference crashing.” A great interview, indeed.

About the Author

Kathleen Blackwell Kathleen Blackwell: Founder & Editor HOLLYISCO • Freelance PR for Tech Startups in Silicon Beach • Previous Executive at Sony BMG Music Entertainment • Founder/CEO Saucy-Wear designer aprons sold at Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table, Neiman Marcus • Founder of multiple Music/Tech brands (including:) The Techie Awards | The Techie Minute | The .CONTENT. Conference | ROCK STOCK │ Cougar Rock │

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