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An interview with John Byrne

A quick interview just taken from the oven. Shortly after the talk Small is Beautiful, a few minutes ago, I had a short talk with John Byrne, editor in chief for Business Week online. It was about the creation of a bill of rights and duties for universal use on the Internet and fighting information overload.

John, I was reading on the Wired last week some comments about the creation of a kind of “bill of rights” for general use on the Internet, and that sounded like a good idea of inhibit abuses and helping people making a more rational use of the Net. What’s your opinion about it? Do you think it could really work in real terms? Are we far of it?

There’s been some discussion about it, that’s true, but it’s very hard to put rules that apply to Internet usage. Internet is a free environment, people can post their content there in a much freer way, and so regulation or constraining the use is something really hard to do, unless you have an army to regulate usage like in China, for example, where they have a really strict law concerning the Internet. There’s no way of getting the gennie back to the bottle once it’s out! But what’s the surprising about it is the fact that people are exposing their lives more and more through these social network websites, sharing very personal data, and, as the opposite of what had been thought in the beginning of the Internet, there’s little invasion of privacy. People are living their public lives on the net without negative effect so far.

Overload of information is a quite big problem in the net nowadays, and you said that it’s not by hiring more journalists and stuffing websites with more content will atract their attention. How to do it in a healthier way, then?

Yes, the issue with overload of information is really a problem. If you get the news from one source, you have already had enough, you don’t need to read one hundred papers talking of the same thing. But to deal with that,  we have the system of filtering news from other websites that already have generated content – portals aggregation (such as Google does, for example) and then we have a traffic increase through this kind of ranking system. But still, producing content, and good, interesting content is what makes the difference.  The media that doesn’t produce original content are going to run out of the business, they’ll have a quite dim future. Good journalism aggregates value to content, and that’s what counts.

As we say in Brazil, “falou e disse”, John.

Meghie Rodrigues

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