Notable Quotes From Gates, Levy and Others Gathered in Seattle

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MSN's Online-Ad Plan: Let the Web Evolve

"The theme of this conference? Guilt."
Overheard in the hallway after Bobby Shriver spoke about raising money to cure AIDS through ProjectRed; Laurie David spoke about her efforts to curb global warming ("Do you know how many of these Americans throw away a day?" she asked attendees, holding up a plastic disposable water bottle); and David Droga aired a short video about his creation of the Tap Project, which raised money for safe drinking water in concert with Unicef and World Water Day.
David Droga
David Droga

Have you Zillowed your house?
That was Joanne Bradford's kickoff question to Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and Yahoo CEO Terry Semel.

Mr. Gates (he has): "Their algorithms don't scale into the very low end or the very high end, I can tell you that. If you bid that number on my house, I won't sell it to you."

Mr. Semel (he has): "I've Zillowed my neighbors' houses. I'm more curious about what it thinks theirs are worth."
Joanne Bradford
Joanne Bradford

Underestimated technology
"Speech and ink," said Mr. Gates, foretelling that speech recognition would in several years be so pervasive that he could walk up to a TV set and it would know it's the father of the house and call up the programs he's interested in. "Those natural-interface things are becoming mature," he said, adding that the small keyboards on many devices "are a fairly unnatural thing."

Gates' killer combo
Voice plus screen, said Mr. Gates, noting how painful it can be to sift through a reading of movie listings over the phone. It's also, he noted, far more robust in the face of some uncertainty as to what the inquiry is. "Take our technology and the TellMe technology we acquired and when you say 'plumber' the presentation you'll get will be far better than Yellow Pages. We know location can cluster around that. ... These things always take time but Yellow Pages usage among people below 50 will drop to near zero in the next five years."

So much for semantics
"In its original argument, it's about having people do the work to make the web more accessible to machines as opposed to having machines do the work to make the web more acceptable to people."
-- Gary Flake, Microsoft's Technical Fellow, on why he's bearish about the semantic web.
Maurice Levy
Maurice Levy Credit: Christophe Bertolin

Why Publicis is prepared for a digital world
"If we, the French, do not like reform, there is nothing we like better than a good revolution," said Maurice Levy, striking a father-figure pose as he was flanked by his younger ingenues David Kenny and David Droga.

How Reveille's Ben Silverman felt about being excluded from the TV networks' discussions with advertisers. "They don't want to connect you with us," he said. "Their holy grail has been separating you with from us and owning that competency. But the producers have that competency. ... And we can deliver that to you without the $60 billion business on top of that."

Biggest dig
"When you send your colleagues, and send anybody, an e-mail, the chances of that e-mail ending up in the blogosphere world or many other places that were unintended at the beginning are great," said Terry Semel, discussing Yahoo employee Brad Garlinghouse's infamous "peanut-butter manifesto" of November 2006. "Mature minds and intelligent people do not put things in e-mails that they would feel badly about if they read it online ... later."
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