By John Oram in California @ Tuesday, March 10, 2009 5:03 PM
| ||Some call Tim O'Reilly the person who knows about new technology before anyone else does. O'Reilly is the founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media, Inc., thought by many to be the best computer book publisher in the world. O'Reilly Media also hosts conferences on technology topics including this week's ETech. |
O'Reilly defines his company not as a book or online publisher, or as a conference producer - though the company does all three - but as a technology transfer company, 'changing the world by spreading the knowledge of innovators.' In his keynote speech, he took on the issues of today including reduced attendance at this year's conference. O'Reilly's theme was that the world doesn't have an investment bubble. Instead, the world is suffering from a reality bubble. The old assumptions about government's paper technology are holding back society.
Some of the highlights focused on both small and large companies that are pushing the technology envelope. O'Reilly spent a good deal of his time talking about various document storage and retrieval ideas that are coming to the forefront. He said the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation is using the power of the Internet to make information about Congress and the federal government more meaningfully accessible to citizens. O'Reilly explained how Sunlight's co-founder with a small group of hackers used open-source tools to bring the US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) public information online in less than six months. The federal government had projected it would take five to ten years and many millions of dollars.
O'Reilly explained how President Obama is implementing these same open information ideas to help the public know what government is doing. This was one of the promises Obama made while running for the presidency. Recently, Vivek Kundra, former chief technology officer of the District of Columbia, was named by President Obama to the new position of chief information officer of the United States. That's a different job than the chief technology officer, a White House position that Mr. Obama said he would create, but has yet to define. The chief information officer, however, will be part of the Office of Management and Budget. He will oversee $71 billion in annual technology spending across the government, and set standards for the design of federal systems.
O'Reilly mentioned the Silicon Valley start up, Better Place. This is a venture-backed company that aims to reduce global dependency on petroleum. They plan to achieve this through the creation of a market-based transportation infrastructure that supports electric vehicles, providing consumers with a cheaper, cleaner, sustainable, personal transportation alternative. The company is building an infrastructure of charging stations and replacement batteries for electric vehicles. The first installations will be in Hawaii, Israel, and Denmark.
One of the highlighted companies was especially close to O'Reilly. His son-in-law is a co-founder of Makani Power. They are seeking ways to harness high-altitude wind energy. They want to produce electrical energy at an unsubsidized real cost significantly below that of the least expensive coal-fired power plants, the current benchmark of the lowest cost source of power. They claim capturing a small fraction of the global high-altitude wind energy flux could be sufficient to supply the current energy needs of the globe. Makani is developing high-altitude wind energy extraction technologies aimed at the most powerful wind resources.
By spreading the knowledge of innovators, O'Reilly sees himself as helping to change the world. He ended with the message that conference attendees should work on something that matters more than money. He believes everyone should return more value to the community. X
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