Transcript of remarks by Gary Flake, Microsoft Technical Fellow
Microsoft Strategic Account Summit 2007
May 8, 2007
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Microsoft Technical Fellow Gary Flake.
GARY FLAKE: So I have to apologize, the technical people here did me a little bit of a disservice by setting up my presentation first. So I’ll have to do a little bit of driving in real-time here. I think I have the deck now, there we go. Now give me my stream back. There we go. Thank you very much.
So I’m combating something here, we’re at an actual point for a nice siesta. I imagine everyone is just kind of like, it’s time to take a stretch. And I’m going to talk about some things that I think are a pretty exciting and interesting. They may require a bit of thought, because I’m going to present what I think are some big ideas in a new way.
But because I’m asking you to make such a big intellectual commitment, in order to get a payoff, I wanted to give you a little bit of a payoff in advance. So what I’m showing here is one-half of the technology that you saw this morning with integration of Silverlight and Seadragon. And so what we’re looking at right now is about 1,000 photos. These are, in total, and actually it’s more than just photos, there’s a lot of mixed media here. There’s about 16 gigabytes of data. And the interesting thing about this is, even though there’s about 1,000 objects here, they are actually all independently maneuverable, so I could fly in and fly out, and pan around, and dive in deeply, and have a lot of fun with that; or I could lay it all out on the grid; or if I wanted to I could position it on the surface of a sphere. Not that this is necessarily a good way of looking at information, but it goes a long way towards showing what this technology can do.
What is really exciting about this is that we believe that there are entirely new forms of advertising, new forms of media, that will emerge from this. So let me just show you what I just did. I just hit a button that basically made about 1,000 objects disappear off the screen, and a couple hundred appear prominently on screen. And you saw a version of a demo like this today as integrated with Silverlight. Now you’re seeing it integrated with the larger Seadragon backend, and now we get to see the sort of infinite zoom advertising capabilities that were shown earlier, but done in a context of there being a lot more information here. So I’m going to go and take a look at the earth, dive in, take a look at low level streets. And, again, this is all one data set that I’m looking at, and if this had been stored remotely, or locally, it really doesn’t matter. That’s the thing about the technology that is somewhat special.
So the last thing I want to show you on this before I go right on to the presentation is that this isn’t just about images, we also handle a multitude of data types, including TrueType Fonts. So what you’re looking at right now is the book “Bleak House” in its entirety. We can step back, see that the chapters are, in fact, columns I’m not suggesting that you would actually want to read a book in this way, but to appreciate the amount of information that is contained just on this one little piece, this one snapshot, is actually quite incredible. And just to prove to you that this is, in fact, TrueType Fonts, we aren’t actually so all this stuff is independently positionable, and I can rotate it around, and whatever, and we can step back out.
OK, so you get the idea. And that was the whole point of that. With that as a little bit of inspiration, I would like now to dive into the presentation. What I want is to spend the bulk of my time talking about today, and afterwards we will actually go into I’m hoping that’s presentation mode. No. I have to apologize, I can’t actually yes, there we go.
I’m going to talk today about the Internet, and why it’s important, and the modest claim that I’m going to make is, despite all of the hype that has been somewhat omnipresent with the Internet or the past couple of years, we are still fundamentally undervaluing the total proposition that it represents to society, and all the various industries that connect to it.
So I’m going to first give you a sense of what my motivation is. Whenever you’re talking about, whether you’re an individual, or a company, or a society, you know, what’s important and what’s not important. It’s important to really have this sense of navigational north, where do we want to go as a society, or an industry, or otherwise. And having this sense of navigational north allows us to sort of focus on that which is important or not important. So that’s my motivation, I want to share with you that which I think is important about the Internet, and why it is fundamentally different.
So I’m going to talk about this in primarily four different pieces. We’re going to talk about four things that have been arguably over-hyped in the past, and we’re going to put them together, and show how, in fact, the combination may arguably be undervalued. Following the bulk of this presentation, I’m going to then dive into some additional demos that are built off of the one that you just saw, and I’ll get a chance to actually show you what I think are things that point to entirely new advertising models, new advertising products that will introduce entirely new value to merchants and consumers.
So let’s start with long tail, and I will try to keep the technical things brief, and also keep it fun at the same time. So long tail is something that is often used to characterize a collection of things in terms of how they relate to one another. And we’re used to talking about things like the head of the distribution, or the tail of the distribution. Intuitively, you can think about the head as being the relatively small number of large things, and the tail as being the relatively large number of small things.
So some examples, in the animal kingdom, we have a small number of whales, whales are very big. In the animal kingdom, we also have a vast number of insects, I’m showing an ant here, and what is very surprising, and the reason why we call this a long tail is that oftentimes the total weight or magnitude of the small things is bigger than the large things. That’s pretty counterintuitive when you think about it, because it’s the big things that are visible to us, but the small things that are invisible. So this not only applies to the animal kingdom, it also applies, say, to music, where we might have Britney Spears as sort of like the whale of music, I mean no disrespect there, my Uncle Harry here as representing one instance of the tail of the music industry, someone who is unsigned, or can’t actually get his song heard, or maybe only is heard by people downloading free MP3s, that sort of thing. And the point is that there are more Harrys than there are Britney Spears. And depending on how we architect the Internet, we may, in fact, find them to be more visible or adding more mass to the total value.
This also exists for the Internet as a whole. Yahoo is an example of something that’s in the head of the distribution. PunkRockKnitters.com in the tail. And, again, this is sort of separating the mainstream big things versus the very small. The subtleties here is that a long tail is actually a macroscopic phenomenon, it is something that emerges from the behaviors of many smaller things coming together. And in particular what a long tail is about is the barriers to entry dropping across the board.
So what we found with the Internet is that barriers to entry have been dropping, creating more participating, yielding a blurring of the lines between the big guys and the small guys in a variety of domains. We see some of these domains are inclusive of content, commerce, communication, code, and some of the examples here really help make the point. Digital photography has made everyone an amateur photographer that can actually, you know, if you have a hit and miss ratio of 1,000 bad photos to one good one, now with digital photography you can actually get the occasional good photo and share it.
The other examples around content are numerous, how we’re just lowering the barriers to participation by allowing many people to produce lots of things. Commerce is a similar story around e-Bay and v-stores, and paid search, and Yahoo stores, and Office Live, and all of these other technologies have basically turned a set of industries where the barrier to entry was thousands of dollars a month, even if just for a T-1 line, to something that is often free, or maybe $5 a month. That kind of a democratization is pretty exciting.
Similar story around communication, where we have e-mail, VOIP, instant messaging, social networks basically increasing the efficiency in which connections are made. And I have a little personal story about this, I actually met my wife about eight or nine years ago on Match.com, and this was a time when you had to lie about how you met. And now we can actually say with no embarrassment, in fact a little bit of pride, that we met on Match.com, because now we were ahead of the curve. But eight years ago, we literally had the cover story of, oh, we actually met in a bookstore, and that whole thing. So, again, we see elements of the Internet that are not mainstream becoming mainstream.
Finally, I would just call out code as another example, because we’re seeing in a fundamental way software development practice is changing. It used to be in order to experiment on how to build a better search engine, you had to build a vast infrastructure just to get into the game. And now with the advent of Web APIs, and Web services, and other things, we have the ability of piecing together these components in such a way that an individual can actually experiment on the infrastructure that formerly had only existed for big corporations or big universities.
The real point, more power to more people, lower barriers to entry for everything.
Second part, network effects. We defined a network effect as just a phenomenon whereby the value of the network increases as a function of the number of participants. This is the typical definition that is used, and we often speak about the common examples here being telephones, instant messaging, e-mail, and other things. Well, this background suggests that new value is only a function of the number of participants. It turns out that the value of a network can, in fact, increase as a function of the amount of participation of a constant number of participants. And so what we’re finding is that as more people come online, as those people who are online are doing more things, the value of the network can increase as well.
So individuals are generating, of course, user generated content, and we find that something exciting, but it’s not something that everyone online does, it’s just something that some people do. But there’s also metadata like tags, and rating. So if you are engaged in making a music playlist, or if you are just giving a thumbs up or a thumbs down to a movie, or saying a product review is helpful or not, those things are adding to the communal pool of knowledge. And even inflicted actions, such as hyperlinks, and clicks through those hyperlinks are adding more value to the ecosystem in terms of what we can do with that data.
Thinking about this more broadly, we had mentioned before content, commerce, communication and code, each of these things is adding more value in the context of a larger catalogue of these things. We have more valuable with metadata, and more valuable because of the activity log associated with usage of those things. So as the Internet matures, and we see it evolve into something that looks a little bit more like a mirror of a physical world, we start to see elements of the physical world becoming instrumented online. So who we know is, in some sense, captured by social networking. What we know is captured in some sense by the knowledge that is embedded online. Where we live by maps, and imagery, and a demonstration that I’ll show you in a couple of minutes called Photosynth will start to instrument the reality of what we see.
Third of four points, Web search. So as a background, our thoughts around Web search as an industry are sometimes a little bit a backwards I’ll claim. Let me get to that statement in a couple of moments and frame it just a little bit. We’re used to thinking about Web search in a number of different flavors. There’s paid, or sponsored search, organic Web search, vertical search, multimedia, the hidden Web, all these other different things that we think about as being parts of Web search, and we focus today mostly on Web pages, on a text query, and text results set.
My claim is that in some sense, this is putting the this is confusing the means and the end. Search is not an end of itself. It is a means towards an end. The end itself is discovery, that is the goal. We wish to discover things. Search is the way by which we discover new things. And so if you think about it in terms of this broader framing of the problem, then discovery needs to be demand driven. So I do a search as an example of discovery to find something that’s of interest to me. It may also be something that we wish to have some serendipity. I may want to be pleasantly surprised. It may make sense to do it based on who I am as an individual.
Now, more participation in this sort of ecosystem of search implies that there’s more to be discovered, because as we mentioned before, as more people are generating user generated content, and there’s more tagging, and more reviews and things like that, the communal pool becomes greater. But with more stuff, there’s a risk that the value of search drops, because if you have more things there, and maybe the new things that are being added are of maybe less or questionable value, then you have something of a needle in a haystack problem. How do I find the piece of information that is there, but now harder to find because of the big pool of information.
So there is a really compelling intersection between content, commerce, and community in terms of how all these things connect and intersect with one another. In fact, I’ll claim that in combination each makes the other better and more valuable. So content becomes a means of expressing interest. If I like to consume information about baseball, and about mountain biking, and about high technology products as well as trends, then that helps describe me as a person in terms of what my likes or dislikes are. So merely the availability of a greater pool of content helps to describe me.
Commerce is something which we find there are implicit quality filters that are in place, because of reputation, endorsement, and simple market signals, things that sell well over long periods of time typically do so because they have value to third parties. Things that don’t, typically do things that don’t sell well typically don’t sell well, because they lack the sort of value relative to the other options on the market. Those are valuable information signals that help inform what is valuable and what’s not valuable.
A community in this larger view of the world actually becomes something in which we get something of a community filter that helps to sift and sort, and vet quality things from the things that maybe should be ignored. The real point here is that, as search gets better, and these technologies in different domains, such as content, commerce, and community, mature, as more people participate, the better search gets at helping to ease the barriers for participation.
So final four of four points here. “The Innovator’s Dilemma.” So let me just give a quick background, or a definition of innovator’s dilemma. I know this is probably familiar to this audience, but I just want to define my terms for a moment. It’s normally characterized by a pattern, and that pattern is the first in an industry focuses on a small number of large, and high margin customers. Later on late arrivals have to focus on lower margin customers, because that is what is available to pursue. The late arrivals learn efficiencies, because they compensate for lack of margin with scale. Meanwhile, competition increases for all participants and margins shrink. The established companies rarely learn the efficiencies that younger companies grew up with. And the late arrivals win, because they can make optimizations and apply them to the head, meaning the smaller number of big customers.
So that is a pattern that has been talked about in a variety of domains, it has been used successfully to analyze a number of different industries, Clay Christiansen is the I’m sure many people here know about this, but has made a name for himself on a number of books taking about this phenomenon.
Our claim that let me just say the dilemma, the reason why we call it the innovator’s dilemma is that oftentimes the first in an industry, the innovator, must eventually destroy or redefine their own business before someone else does. And some of the more telling examples of this in the past would include Cray being killed by Silicon Graphics, Silicon Graphics being wedged by Sun, Sun being pressured by the PCs, and maybe who knows what the relationship will be between PCs and cell phones.
So what gets really interesting, though, is when you talk about what the innovator’s dilemma means as applies to the online world. So let’s do a side-by-side comparison between the online and the offline world. Offline there are huge startup costs to get in business, you might have to build a shop, put up a storefront. Online the startup costs are diminishing, it’s becoming easier each and every day, and in some cases they’ve dropped to zero.
Offline the aggregate size of the tail of your business is limited by physics. Simple geography in terms of how many people can you connect to at a physical setting, that’s limited. Whereas, online the aggregate size of your tail business can potentially be unbounded, or in fact, only in some sense bounded by the size of the world. Offline more business usually implies more employees, to put it another way, you have to work harder. Online more business may not require more employees, it just means that you have to work smarter. Which leads us to the fact that a quality product usually implies high touch in the offline world, but in the online world a quality product might, in fact, be a better algorithm.
Innovation iteration in the offline world often follows product and business cycles, which can take years to unwind and unfold. In fact, arguably the innovator’s dilemma with respect to the transition of the different hardware paradigms is something that has taken decades to unfold. Whereas, online the innovation iteration patterns follow a data flow cycle. In fact, we’ve already seen multiple generations of different companies pioneering an industry being having that industry be redefined out from under them, and then moving on to the next thing.
So the real point to all of this is that when you consider how innovation happens in the offline world and online world, in the online world there’s fundamentally a cross cycle, if you will, that is much more rapid. It’s a much more liquid, fluid environment in which change happens. So we’ve now just considered four different pieces. I would now like to show you that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts when we put these things together, and that it is the combination that is, in fact, undervalued.
So to recap, we talked about long tails, which was fundamentally about more carriage, more people, lower barriers to entry for everything. We talked about network effects, which is creating new value as a function of the number of participants, and the participation that they bring on. We talked about Web searches being fundamentally about discovery and as a means of discovery something that gets better as more people participate, and also as their depth of participation increases. And we talked about Internet speed, or the innovator’s dilemma as being something which captures the non-physical aspects of the Internet, and how it increases the cross-cycle of change.
The interesting thing is that there’s a very compelling way of putting all these pieces together. So if lowering barriers to participation is fundamentally about simplified authoring and participation, and if network effects are about extracting new value from pooling combinations of different data sets, and data together in one place, then we can clearly see that the green circle follows from the red circle. That is, more people participate the greater the pool of data there is to collect and put in one place, the greater the potential value.
Now, as that pool increases and as there’s more value that can be extracted, we have more ways of enhancing modes of discovery, and as we have the ability of enhancing more forms of discovery, that in turn feeds our ability to connect it back to the first red circle, in simplifying participation.
So this is a very abstract characterization, let me ground it with a couple of examples. And I forgot to mention the fourth point, rapid iteration rapidly iterating innovation cycles, making this reinforcement something of a snowball effect, or a virtuous cycle, in terms of how it all connects.
So let’s just talk about some simple examples of how we see this thing playing out. For music, users now are motivated, even if you don’t play a musical instrument, to author, create, publish play lists of that which you like and dislike. That collection of information about user taste forms a collective pool from which you can tease out the pattern of, if you’re this sort of person that likes this type of music, you’ll have a tendency to like that music. And so teasing out those patterns, sifting out the cues that help inform what are the patterns that exist at the forests if you’re looking at the level of the trees. That’s fundamentally what’s happening here. In turn, we can use that value, that new knowledge that’s teased out, to facilitate new forms of discovery, which, in fact, encourages people to, once again, have greater engagement, and greater participation for authoring these types of things.
We can use Wikipedia as an example, where fundamentally Wikipedia started out as nothing more than a very streamlined and simple way for multiple people to collaborate with one another, and author an entry, or edit an entry. That, in turn, created something that had greater value on the whole than it did individually. So we see that the collection of Wikipedia entries that make up the whole thing is more valuable together than they are apart. This, in turn, facilitates the ability of individuals to discover new things about the world, which, again, inspires them to be more proactive in interacting with that system.
I’m going to show you something called Photosynth in just a moment, and this is yet another example. What I’m going to show you is that in the old way of looking at digital photos we had someone taking a digital photo, and the amount of personal utility that they got out of that photo was something that was just a function of their interest, and what they did independently. However, I’m going to show you how we can take a collection of photos and make an entirely new digital artifact, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, where there is entirely new, and non-linear value from pooling together lots of digital photos. This, in turn, allows people to explore and experience photos in an entirely new way, which, again, facilitates new forms of discovery.
So let’s get to the demos. OK. So the first thing I’m going to show you is a tour of St. Peter’s. So what we’re looking at here is approaching in to St. Peter’s from afar, and I’m just going to walk through some photos and start maybe just walking around different portions of this. And some of you may have figured out what’s going on already. We have a whole bunch of photos, but those photos are, in fact, organized in such a way that they are laid out relative to one another in a way that preserves the spatial relationship between the individual photos, effectively creating something of a 3-D virtual environment automatically from the collection of photos.
Now, I have to emphasize this experience here was created automatically, with no human intervention. We basically took a couple hundred photos, we processed them with an algorithm, and the algorithms basically came up with an output that consisted of two things: one, how did the individual photos relate to one another; and two, what is a three-dimensional model of the universe in which these photos live.
So, let me show you a couple things. I want to take a quick flyover, and you can see St. Peters from when I initially did a sort of flyover, and there we go. So, that is St. Peter’s, and that is the 3-D model that was actually teased out from the individual photos.
I’ve also just turned on the feature of Photosynth where the cameras of the photographers and their position where they’re at are now actually displayed. So, these cones here represent photographers, where they were standing, and I can say, OK, where was this photographer standing, and I click there, and I see. And I can also make out, oh, there was someone up high; where were they? Oh, they were taking a picture up there. And then I can navigate around.
And again experience, collections of photos in a way that no one has ever really done before. And I’m also noting that there’s a photographer that was standing up here. Let’s go back up here, and we can look out and see the entire plaza that makes up St. Peter’s, and dive back in.
So, let me call out the special things about this. So, you have photos. They have value to you. There exists a whole universe of photos that are either out in sort of a communal pool or other people currently have that they hold privately. The value that you get by putting them together is actually greater than the sum of the individual values, because you can tease out how they relate to one another.
So, instead of thinking about what my vacation photos actually look like, we now have the ability of seeing my vacation photos in the context of your vacation photos in the context of the historical photos that existed.
And this gets really exciting, and when you start thinking about all the different use cases. We have done this on interiors of houses, we have done this for the surface of mars, we have done this for space stations in the sky, we have done this for multiple locations that include both manmade artifacts, as well as natural landmarks. And in every case we are surprised by the new value that we’ve seen being able to explore a space in quite this way.
And so that is a new way of experiencing photos.
Now, to change gears just a little bit, I would like to show you how this same technology can serve as a way of surfacing an entirely new form of advertisement. So, what we have here is something that’s not unlike what I just showed you. I have the Photosynth of the interior of a commercial space, shown here, and on the left I have some Web content that happens to correspond to it.
So, we’re in a place now called Fixed Design. And I can walk into the store, and I can take a look and see, yes, they seem to have a lot of products here related to bathrooms and kitchens and things like that.
Now, what’s interesting is that I just walk close to this region over here that has lots of faucets. And you notice that this content over here actually changed to correspond with it. And I can — you know, if I’m interested, I might say, oh, let me take a look at this faucet. And when I do that, of course, the corresponding content, Web content over here changed in order to be consistent with that. And I can again work my way around the space, navigate around, take a step back, look, and I say, oh, okay, maybe there’s this sink over here, I can take a look at that.
The whole point is we’ve talked before about technologies like Second Life for creating virtual environments for how people will want to interact with the world. This is something that maybe it’s properly referred to as one and a half life. You know, if first life is the physical world that we interact with, Second Life is the virtual gaming world, this is somewhere in between where we have something of a synthetic world that’s been created, but it is, in fact, married, it’s consistent with physical reality, but also has the ability of being combined with the Internet and the Web content that’s already there.
So, for example, just thinking about the possibilities for what you can do for connecting the dots between a physical storefront and an online storefront, because keep in mind what we’ve effectively done here is created the ability to place hyperlinks from your physical store into your online store, and to connect the dots. So, every time you’ve ever been in a store, and you wish to have the ability of pulling out a rich set of information that was supplemental to the individual products, we now have the ability of surfacing that, giving you the best of both worlds.
So, I will now switch gears again, going back to the presentation. You’ve got to love this; my favorite feature.
So, again I had mentioned that Photosynth is another example of this phenomenon whereby, as I said before, users take digital photos, the collection of photos creates something of a model of the world, either something that is narrowly encapsulating a small piece of the world, or something maybe where we can get more aspirational and think about doing this for a significant part of the world. This in turn facilitates people to discover information in entirely new ways, and really kind of bootstraps the whole phenomenon of helping people to discover information.
Even more longer term, we have the potential of seeing a similar phenomenon with respect to science, because people want to publish scientific statements. The body of scientific knowledge that’s encoded online, that actually facilitates new forms of discovery to be realized, which feeds the whole thing.
And this is just to show that this isn’t merely about products, this isn’t merely about advertisement; it’s really profound and even speaks to a day in which things like the scientific method actually change.
So, at this point there’s a really interesting question that might be on some of your heads: How do we connect the past and the present and the future together in a way where we can sort of rationalize some of the trends that I’ve been forecasting here to the history of a company like Microsoft, the state of the Internet as it exists today?
And I have a rather bold claim to make. And I think before this presentation, if I had made it, you would have not been too motivated to buy the argument, but I think now I may have laid a little bit more groundwork to help make the case. My claim is that things that are often held as encapsulating the Web 2.0 philosophy, or that which is important about the Web, are actually quite aligned and consistent with some of the fundamental values that have been Microsoft’s core for decades.
So let me talk about this. When we talk about long tails, the real point, the thing that made them important was more power to more people, lowering the barriers of participation. Well, we as Microsoft have really helped push forward a couple of different revolutions of this type with bringing out ubiquitous computing, putting a desktop — you know, aspiring to put a computer on every desktop, and prioritizing things like desktop publishing, Visual Basic and [Microsoft] Excel macros, and other technologies that really helped democratize participation to bring more people into the fold.
With respect to network effect, this is something that has fundamentally been about our core values as well. The Windows-based ecosystem is, in fact, something that has both direct and indirect network effects. And what’s really interesting is that a lot of people in the outside might want to characterize Microsoft as a 500-pound gorilla. The fact is that there is something that exists in the software world that is much bigger than Microsoft, and that is our partner ecosystem. So, when you take a look at the OEMs and the ISVs and the VARs and all the other different types of partners that we have within our ecosystem, they are double the size of us, which is quite remarkable when you think about the fact that in the online world today that sort of relationship and equity stake in the success of the ecosystem is actually kind of reversed in the online world. So, to belabor the point a little bit is that we’ve really made it as part of our core values to create ecosystems that benefit many different types of partners.
Web search, the main point was that discovery gets better as you have more participation, and, in fact, Web search is something that’s better understood in the context of their being democratization of participation from many different viewpoints to the network effect for creating more value and how these things sort of mutually reinforce one another.
So, the confession that I’m making here is that this is not historically been our strength, nor our focus. But the promise and commitment that we’re making to you today that it is fundamentally our biggest focus and will be our strength in the future.
Internet speed: We talked about the non-physical aspects of the Internet, speeding up something of the natural clock cycle of how the world evolves. And looking back historically, we saw the same thing happening in the hardware industry.
We are predicting, and, in fact, counting on this same sort of property happening with the Internet as well, so seeing old things sometimes being displaced by new things. And while we are one of the older participants in the software industry, we think of ourselves as relative newcomers to the Internet. And we hope that as you see our own strategy come together, that it will be something that resonates with you, because fundamentally it’s really about creating a virtuous cycle for many types of participants with many types of participation.
So, I started off with the realization that having some sort of sense of navigational north is important for anyone who wishes to focus on what’s important, and have the ability to ignore what’s not important.
Just to recap, our navigational north in some sense I guess is best characterized in this abstract with, with simplified authoring, empowering or facilitating or feeding new value in combining data together, which in turn fuels new forms of discovery, which in turn fuels the new ways of enabling participation.
So, with that, I thank you, and I believe we have a couple minutes for questions. (Applause.)
So, while we’re waiting on any questions — anyone, anyone, Bueller? All right.
So, for fun then I’ll show another Photosynth, until someone wants to ask a question, because I have you as a captive audience. Again, this mouse is the bane of me.
QUESTION: Is what you are describing in terms of the search relationships and the underlying connectivity, what’s being called the semantic Web, is this putting Microsoft in a leadership position to commercialize the semantic Web?
GARY FLAKE: So, I have a confession to make. As originally articulated, and I am actually a little bit bearish on the semantic Web. The reason why is that in some of its original architecture, the semantic Web is more about having people do the work to make the Web more accessible to machines, instead of having machines do the work of making the Web more accessible to humans.
And I think if you look historically at how some of the advanced market techniques have actually fared in terms of their adoption and use, they don’t necessarily suggest nor predict that the semantic Web, as articulated in its early days, would be successful.
Now, that said, I once wrote an academic paper called “The Self-Organized Web; the Yin to the Semantic Web Yang”. And I’m a firm believer in the fact that we will be able to tease out entirely new value automatically by synthesizing markups, by being able to automatically discover when pages are about what type of thing, and then weaving that information together in order to bring about new value to consumers. But I think it has to be fundamentally about machines making the Web more accessible to people as opposed to the other way around.
Last question. All right. Well, I think this is a good stopping point. Thank you very much. (Applause.)