PDF: Eric Schmidt

Google’s head, Eric Schmidt, is talking with the New York Times’ Tom Friedman at PDF.

Schmidt says the most obvious use of the internet in politics is as a truth detector: We can look up what politicians have said and we can refute fact.

He also says that voters will become much less likely to believe the first thing that comes at them because there is so much more coming. This is the model of news going forward as it becomes more universal and instantaneous.

Friedman quotes a friend who says that a young George Bush would never get elected today — no, not for the obvious reason — because if there would have been cell phone cameras and pictures of his wild days at Yale. Friedman says that when people our age go for jobs, we present our resume: our proxy of ourselves. Now that identity is online and out of our control. Schmidt says that he thinks there should be a law allowing us all to change our names at 21: everything before is erased.

I think there is also an issue of mutual assured destruction: Let he who has nothing embarrassing searchable on Google cast the first stone.

Friedman also tells a story that in essence makes us all politicians, all public figures: He was at an airport newsstand and a woman thought he cut in front of her and she snarled, “I know who you are.” He says today he’d buy the woman’s magazine hoping she wouldn’t go blog the episode, creating a reputation for that rude guy from the New York Times.

Friedman tells the story of how in a recent Bahraini election voters used Google Earth to take pictures of what was behind the walls of the palaces and estates of the ruling family. Schmidt says the government tried to shut down Google Earth but there was a backlash and they had to turn it back on again, all of which only drew more attention to it. Online, as in the White House, the coverup is worse than the crime.

(Crossposted from PrezVid)

  • http://michaelzimmer.org Michael Zimmer

    For the big names, this panel isn’t really all that insightful.

    “because if there would have been cell phone cameras and pictures of his wild days at Yale” -yeah, we all pretty much figured that one out long ago.

    “Schmidt says that he thinks there should be a law allowing us all to change our names at 21: everything before is erased.” Um, there’s nothing preventing anyone from legally changing their name. The bigger point for Mr. Schmidt to consider is that we should be able to erase everything Google has collected about its users thanks to their tracking cookies and Google Accounts.

    “Friedman tells the story of how in a recent Bahraini election voters used Google Earth to take pictures of what was behind the walls of the palaces and estates of the ruling family.” That was covered 6 months ago.

    I’m sure this is a nifty event, by why pay $250 to hear a bunch celebrity-types regurgitate the same old blather? If they really wanted a conference on “personal democracy” it would be free and have a bunch of average citizens talking about their political lives.

    (apparently I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning)

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  • http://www.edcone.com Ed Cone

    MZ, your reaction was widely shared by the attendees to whom I spoke.

    Google’s paid slot on the program was not compelling stuff — and Friedman’s subsequent solo spot was much worse.

    My review of the event is here.

  • http://ari.typepad.com Steve Rhodes

    Video of it is at

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ut3yjR7HNLU

    (it is interesting that google can put long videos on youtube – it should be an option for others)

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