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News Flash: Bill Gates Is Still a Smart Guy May 4, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.

Looking over my notes from yesterday afternoon’s presentation (Donny Deutsch interviewing Bill Gates, coming soon to a TV broadcast near you), I found some good Gatesian wisdom. These aren’t exact quotes:

Mass Audience Media

Deutsch asks a good question: in this world of fragmented media, aren’t we losing a great advertising platform – the big hit show that reaches a mass audience simultaneously?

Gates: No. This new environment is better. Now marketers can buy an audience – instead of a show – across media. In the current model, there is a lot of manual labor and inefficiency in using shows as a proxy for audiences.

Deutsch: But how can you plug into a wide audience?

Gates: That’s really a question about how many shows/hits make up the head of the “long tail.” Technology allows the long tail to exist. That doesn’t mean everything in the tail will be popular. The top hits at the head of the tail will still be a huge part of what people watch.

Social Stuff

Deutsch: Something about the social angle of fragmentation. Isn’t that a bad thing?

Gates: Fragmentation only happens where we want it to.

Deutsch: What happens when teenagers aren’t forced to go through the social assimilation process? When they just communicate/connect via technology?

Gates: You’ll still meet people face to face. You’ll just have richer communication tools for when you’re not face to face.

Searching for Google

Deutsch: So how far are you behind Google? Is it too late to catch up?

Gates: We’ll look back on this time and realize that search is pathetic. If I ask for something, I should get it, not a list of things to click on.

It’s great for where it is, but it will get so much better. Right now, there’s no way to qualify results by authority, by trusted sources. Sources I trust, that is.

Microsoft builds platforms for information organization. We’re not going to “organize the world’s information” for it.

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