Just got back from another much enjoyed PFF Aspen Summit. Here's the top-ten of what I learned:
10. When he's not firing controversial superstars, Sumner Redstone is apparently reading New Economy business tomes. In his speech last night, Redstone referred extensively to Chris Anderson's book "The Long Tail" and noted that "Anderson wrote his book in hopes that folks like me would pick it up." Redstone endorsed the economic opportunity of back catalogues -- but only under a regime of strong copyright controls.
9. If she wants it, FTC chair Deborah Platt Majoras has a long, successful political career ahead of her. She has the one-two punch of showing smarts and a warm personality in front of a crowd and in smaller settings. Majoras also is clearly inquisitive. She attended most sessions and stayed for the entire conference. Some keynoters are "wheels-up" 15 minutes after their speech.
8. "I'm wheels-up in 15 minutes" is a normal thing to say in Aspen....
7. Some D.C. lobbyists are arguing that the big Telco bill has a better chance of passing out of the Senate than some think. They also think a resolution with the House bill is possible with some fancy procedural footwork.
6. Anne Sweeney, Disney-ABC TV President, wakes up in the morning thinking about the Millennials and how to please "the largest generation ever." Her speech largely detailed why Disney did their iTunes video deal last year (one, a Bittorrented episode of Desperate Housewives and, two, a personal demo from Steve Jobs). The "Most Powerful Woman in Entertainment" also taught us that everything old is new again. She said that the single sponsor approach that's straight out of the 1950s is a great model for online broadcasts and referenced a recent Disney survey that said 87 percent viewers remembered the advertisers.
5. We aren't as delusional as previously thought. Cisco's Bob Pepper (and former FCC chief of policy development) agrees with our worries about the EC Television Without Frontiers regulatory plan that would treat wireless and Internet video content similar to TV broadcast content. We are in-synch with Pepper when he said this week that social regulation will drive the near future of communications regulations.
4. The Aspen Trifecta? Ribs at the Hickory House. Sushi at Matsuhisa. And, beers by the Sky Hotel pool (above). The best part is that all were enjoyed with great folks from the tech and media worlds who were temporarily unrattled by the normal rush.
3. During the "Child Protection" panel, it became abundantly clear that in order to prevent future DOPAs (which very few think will ever come to a vote in the Senate) and to, importantly, get parents more comfortable with their children's embrace of ubiquitous technology, we need a freakin' huge multi-dimensional government/industry campaign to educate both kids and adults about responsibility and safe practices in an always-on and always-connected age. The analogy used in Aspen was the "Buckle-Up" seatbelt campaign. As folks like MySpace's Hemanshu Nigam noted, having every company out there create their own Internet safety tips is fine, but there is a huge opportunity for cross-industry and governmental collaboration that can help empower all types of parents. Nigam also said that MySpace has published a guidebook to the site that helps law enforcement present a case to a U.S Attorney and gain access to pertinent information off of a seized computer. (Also see PFF's Solveig Singleton's thoughts on the nexus between security, safety and copyright.)
2. I need to add another "gap" to our list of tech policy related divides. As 463's San Francisco guy, I was (again) struck by how far big new communications trends have to go to become accepted among the DC policy set. From some, there was outright derision for blogs and YouTube-like content and wonderment at my suggestions that they start navigating the stuff. Hint: Do NOT use the acronym "RSS" and try to explain its benefits if you wish to be taken seriously with this crew. It's the equivalent of pulling a Tom Cruise-spiel on Scientology in their eyes....
Which brings us to number one...
1. Do not speak during the final night's Chairman's Address***
***You had to be there. No really. If you weren't in Aspen, and you can swing it, you really should try to make it next year. There's a good reason why this event gets so many repeat attendees.
P.S.: Three cheers to PFF senior fellow Adam Thieier for running the most interactive panel of the conference. Great format.
P.P.S.: A whisper among some attendees was the wish for more divergent viewpoints at the event. Folks like Mark Cuban, Ariana Huffington, Gavin Newsom, John Sununu, Laura Tyson, international policy leaders and Web 2.0 folks were mentioned as potential good adds.
P.P.P.S.: Thanks PFF!