Is social networking overhyped?
Peter Rojas is the cofounder and editor-in-chief of Engadget, which is a daily weblog covering gadgets, consumer electronics and personal technology. He is also the cofounder of Joystiq, a weblog which covers video games. Rojas has worked as a contributing editor at Cargo, an editor-at-large at Sync, a technology editor of VMan, and a columnist for The Guardian, writing on emerging technology. He is a frequent contributor to a variety of publications both on- and off-line and appears on radio and television regularly as a technology commenter. Rojas was educated at Harvard University and the University of Sussex. He lives in New York City.
Question: What is Web 2.0?
Peter Rojas: No programming’s actually that easy. But it’s like as far as developing programming environments, it’s really made it a lot easier for people to make, you know, sites like Web 2.0 type sites than it would have been like five years ago. And _________ like the cost of production, the ease of production, and the democratization of production has really come down. And that’s, I think, you know, something like the sort of idea of democratization of production is . . . is something that all mediums . . . all media are having trouble with. And that, to me, is the real story of not just the Internet, but about like the shift from analog to digital. It’s that we’re seeing it becoming, with each passing year, cheaper and cheaper and easier and easier for anyone to produce anything. Whether it’s like, you know, a TV show. Or you know a radio show, or a podcast, or music –make their own music. Or create their own, you know, online newspaper so to speak. I mean all these things are . . . are . . . It’s become so cheap and easy. And then you couple that with basically the world’s most frictionless distribution mechanism, that it’s really hard for . . . for you know these media companies which thrived in the age of mechanical production or reproduction . . . and I read a lot of Walter _________, so I read a lot about this stuff. You know it’s hard for them to really thrive in that environment. And it’s . . . it’s . . . They . . . they probably should have started __________ their businesses five years ago. I think it might be too late. It’s gonna be too late for a lot of them. And the reason why I’m getting . . . doing something with music – which sound cra . . . I mean it’s crazy. There’s no reason why anyone should get into the music business now – is like I’m kind of betting that by doing things at this extremely low . . . taking advantage and recognizing these shifts that we can do stuff very cheaply, very efficiently, and that we don’t need like . . . It’s like a record label with . . . literally without 99 percent of the other stuff. We’re just like keeping the one percent that’s actually valuable.
Question: What do you make of the social networking craze?
Peter Rojas: It’s more that it’s an evolution. I mean I have people . . . There are people that I became friends with on Prodigy that I’m still friends with now. And that was 1988 or ’89 that I became friends with these people. And . . . but it’s funny that they . . . they reconnected with me through MySpace. So it’s just kind of funny how that all . . . that all works out. I mean I think that it’s . . . it’s . . . a lot of stuff on the Internet is not necessarily different in . . . in . . . it’s not a quanti . . . It’s not like quantitatively different. It’s more . . . I mean it’s not qualitatively different. It’s sort of quantitatively different. It’s like an evolution of something that happened before. And because of broadband and improvements in web-based technology, I mean you can make the experience better. And you can facilitate it and make it a lot smoother. I mean it’s like, you know, YouTube . . . You could have done YouTube years ago more or less. But what made it possible was broadband. And so it changes . . . Broadband really changes the way people interact, you know . . . It makes people . . . It changes the way people want to interact with the Internet, because it makes a lot of things that were too frustrating to do before like download video . . . You know you wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time on Facebook if every time, you know, you wanted to click on a profile page you had to wait a minute for it to load. It defeats the purpose. And a lot of people, especially people on Facebook and MySpace, will spend . . . will look at 60 or 70 pages in a session. And so you know they can . . . Because that can actually happen very quickly, it’s something that they do wanna . . . It’s something that they actually will do.
Recorded on: 10/2/07
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