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SIIA gets better

Already today’s better. The sun is shining. A guy from Yahoo! had some real stuff to say (and there were questions). And the nice Hispanic woman in the ladies’ room showed me some cold medicine when I walked in this morning. We had a chat in Spanish (I was surprised to find that she did not speak English).

Now we’ve got a panel about B2B content, which wasn’t so relevant to our business of the past (100% library reference) but certainly makes sense when it comes to what comes next at Berkshire: popular and professional online information, ditto for books, and also our “China hand” newsletter, Guanxi. What I learned is (1) people love free content and (2) people in this business have a hell of a time distinguishing between different types of content. Like many publishers and librarians, they don’t want to use the word “quality.” Why? Because we’re not sure we really offer something special? In other industries, there’s no problem talking about tradeoffs between quality and price.

The next session was an interview with Jim Buckmaster, CEO of craigslist. Shock in the audience, I guess, at his lack of interest in maximizing revenues. The interviewer from Fortune magazine seemed unable to grasp that you can choose not to maximize profits but still make plenty of money, pay people market salaries, and have enough and then some. He seemed to think it was a choice between blatant nonstop capitalism and a hairshirt lifestyle. Clearly not, with a staff of 19 and profits in the millions of dollars. Enough for most people, I should think, and then some.

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