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High Tech Policy

WASHINGTON, DC -- CBS News announced that it will simulcast the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric on the web. Brilliant. This is another announcement in the accelerating web 2.0 trend. OK, what is the Web 2.0? It may mean something different to just about everybody. But it seems to relate to emerging business models that have a lot to do with being web based, multimedia content, broadband enabled, ubiquitous connectivity, comfort with new ways of obtaining and sharing information, and advertising dollars or cost sharing that drive many of these new models. With the Katie Couric model, the content will be reproduced at minimal marginal cost, and revenue will be enhanced by advertising — not the same advertising as the TV broadcast — but different ads, no doubt targeted at a younger audience, which will also help CBS move closer to the advertising demographic sweet spot. And CBS viewership will be broadened by definition — not only can you watch it at home, but at work, in your car, on the train, or wherever you have connectivity. Your relationship with the evening network news has changed. katiecouric.jpgRecent Web 2.0 related news includes Google’s $900 million deal with MySpace for search and advertising; a blue jeans promotion deal for a MySpace member with lots of MySpace ‘Friends,’ now something with possible market value; a YouTube video maker signed by the Carson Daly TV show to do content there; AOL’s move from a paid dial-up access and subscription service to a web-based advertising driven service; Foster’s beer’s decision to stop TV advertising in the U.S. and move to Internet advertising; a slew of recent deals to deliver movies over the net (note Cisco’s own investment in MovieBeam); political blogs supported by advertising; political campaigns and parties plugged-in; the exponential growth of social networking through Facebook, MySpace and others; on-line communities supporting all of the above, and tens of other examples. Which of these business models will thrive, and which will morph, zig -- zag, or fail, who knows. But one thing’s for sure, the ground continues to shift.So, what does this mean for public policy? It may mean a lot, but it also may not mean that much. Just like web 1.0, there will be new facts that have to be applied against age old principles. Issues relating to competition, intellectual property, privacy, security, consumer protection, crime, the First Amendment, defamation, and the like. Some policy makers have already begun to talk about the regulation of social networks, to protect against bad actors prowling our on-line communities. Just like Web 1.0, it strikes me some policy principles would be helpful. Some of them seem core. First, we should not assume we know how these markets will evolve, and what possible effects may actually occur. So, guard against urges to intervene based on the unknown or theoretical. Second, return to base legal principles. What is illegal (and legal) off-line is most often illegal (and legal) on-line, and the same base principles should be applied — regardless of the tool of transmission. And third, do not create rules that specify or require the use of particular technologies. A healthy reliance on innovation is a good thing. On a day-to-day level, the Web 2.0 can help inform public policy. At Cisco, we’ve been using the ‘Web 2.0′ for policy for some time. If you are looking for information on tech policy issues, we have this blog, which is going strong for over a year and half and one of the few blogs on technology policy issues; or catch the latest in Executive Thought Leadership on video (addressing such issues as An Interactions Economy, Driving Productivity Improvements in Healthcare, Building the Self Defending Network, Next Generation Networks, or Balancing Open Communications with Security -- and many others); or download various technology vision pod casts . So, I bet CBS and Katie Couric are on to something….. I can’t wait to see how her competitors respond, and how this market continues to develop….

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