I think I was the last person on the planet to hear about "D." Now in its tenth year (those in the know just call it "D10") The Wall Street Journal’s "D: All Things Digital" conference was, apparently, the place to be last week. D1 through D9 had escaped my notice, but by freak coincidence three people told me last week that they were "heading to D10," as if I was supposed to know what that meant. Luckily, with the aid of Google, I was able to reply to their emails as if I knew what I was talking about.
If aliens wanted to abduct and study a large percentage of the smartest people in the world at once, they'd grab the speakers and audience at D. The list of genius speakers is seemingly endless: Nathan Myhrvold, Larry Ellison, Mike Bloomberg, Aaron Sorkin... The audience is full of the people who give TED talks, run hedge funds and generally do better in life than most of us have done.
So, here's my question:
If D10 was full of so many smart people, why didn't they all burst out laughing at that moment?
There's a lot more to say about online privacy, but it's worth keeping one big idea in mind: Facebook is free. The millions of end users who enjoy it, and Twitter, Google services, and a million other online offerings, don't pay a penny for them. Instead, they are required to look at, or avoid looking at, advertisements. The judicious acquisition and analysis of user data is what allows these companies to sell their ad space. It's a business model that works for me, and if you're reading this it works for you too.
So, let it work.