Esther Dyson does business as EDventure Holdings, the reclaimed name of the company she owned for 20-odd years before selling it to CNET Networks in 2004. In the last few years, she has turned her sights towards IT and health care. She dedicated two issues of her newsletter, Release 1.0, to the topic (Health and Identity: No Patient Left Behind? in January 2005 and Personal Health Information: Data Comes Alive! in September 2005). Also in September 2005, she ran the Personal Health Information workshop that laid out many of the challenges still perplexing the health-care community.
Currently, she is on the board of directors of 23andMe and is one of the initial ten subjects of George Church's Personal Genome Project. Her primary activity is investing in start-ups and guiding many of them as a board member. Her board seats include Boxbe, CVO Group (Hungary), Eventful.com, Evernote, IBS Group (Russia, advisory board), Meetup, Midentity (UK), NewspaperDirect, and WPP Group and Yandex (Russia).
Some of her past direct IT investments include Flickr, Del.icio.us, BrightMail, Medstory and Orbitz. Dyson was the founding chairman of ICANN from 1998 to 2000, and was also chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation in the 90's. In 1997, she wrote Release 2.0: A Design for Living in the Digital Age, which appeared in paperback a year later as Release 2.1. In 1994, she wrote a seminal essay on intellectual property for Wired magazine.
Question: How has technology changed the way you live?
Esther Dyson: Yeah, it has changed my life tremendously, the one interesting story the first time I went to Russia, I have sort of I had an MCI million camp but I didn’t use at my still more very many people to send email to and it was really unpleasant to use so I went to Russia met all these interesting people and discovered that it was impossible there is stay in touch with them by telephone because the telephone system was so bad where as e-mail you just send the e-mail in the might take a day or two to go through that but we get through, so I started using e-mail to stay in touch with to people I had met in Russia So that in a sense the existence of the internet enabled me to stay in touch with people would there fore made the travel more worth while and in my personal case it vastly increased my travel because it is you take a trip and kind of adds value to the trip by enabling you to maintain the contact after the trip and then you got to make another trip and so forth and that is one very specifically, a second and of course these are all very broad that I am trying to be concrete the second was I began my career as a fact checker in Forbes and I used to go to the Forbes library which is just huge cabinet place full of file dressed and file folders in find and probably at two year old annual report two or three fax press releases and may be a clipping or two bet any given company and I was all you had to go on, so then you would try and figure out the phone number for the PR guy then you get a big packet of the last years annual report in the male and I want with more press releases and then you just at the call around and find sources there is, it was actually really hard to do research and now it is just amazing you going to all need find it all have and you find the bad stuff and the good stuff in the entry stuff so the availability of information is just astonishing compared to what it is like in this speed with which you can get it all always change dramatically. In my own life, I used to remember phone numbers just in my head. But now I don’t any more of that mostly is that when you have been call people but if I do their opinion my self and most of what I do is by e-mail and then I will use e-mail to set up appointments In a sense I now loan operator it makes it possible for an individual to do things that previously we are possible only to an institution you can communicate with people directly you don’t need secretaries in all this infrastructure you can out source a lot of stuff your banking all those kind of things so as I mentioned earlier the erosion of the power of the establishment at the institution in favor of empowering the individual I still I am social if time but the amount that I can get done this stays of astonishing.
Question: Does that translate to politics?
Esther Dyson: Oh, yeah, in politics, the politicians haven’t recognized this yet but they are beginning to that there are really two things one is the increased transparency and among the board of an organization called the sun life foundation which is trying to, even leverage that tendency in first get congress people to become more transparent if they are not simply use the concept of research methods and mention to find stuff out in what real estate transactions happened next toward in then are you all the stuff and it is also changing people’s expectations they expect answers. They want to find the answers to their questions if they have a problem they expect some response and so people are beginning to expect two way communication rather than simply listening to the candidates speaking and then the podcast.
Recorded on: 03/21/2008