I just came back from Denmark, where I gave the opening keynote at GOTO Conference in Aarhus. I spoke for almost an hour about the importance of letting old and obsolete industries die in peace.
The topic of my talk was “Beware red flags on the Net”, referring to the Red Flag Act of 1865 in the United Kingdom. It stipulated that every car must have a man walking in front of the car waving a red flag, thereby effectively limiting the new automobile to walking speed. Much later, it was discovered that the railroad and stagecoach industries had been behind the lobbying that led to this law – they pretended to embrace the new technology, but actually killed its potential to disrupt their own business.
As a result, the German automobile industry got a 20-year head start over the British one, a head start that still shows in the global economy. Thus, the special interest of the legacy industries prevented the public interest of a competitive overall industry.
I gave many more examples of this, and point out that the legacy information industries are now doing the same thing to the net – pretending in words to embrace it, but their actions are different: they are trying to kill the net’s ability to replace the legacy industries with something better. Towards the end, I peered a bit in my crystal ball and predicted that telcos, banks, and even entire governments are next in line to be challenged after the postal services, the copyright industry, and the news services have started to sweat over becoming obsolete (and in the case of the postal service, the process is almost complete).
GOTO at Aarhus was my first opening keynote this month – on the 25th, I’m also honored with opening T2 Infosec in Helsinki. (I’m also giving the closing keynote at NodeJS Dublin on the 19th and a few other presentations in October.)
I was very happy to see the evaluation results come in from the audience: despite logistic problems with the audio, the results came back as 288 votes positive, 56 neutral and only 10 negative. Doing the math, I think that translates to a 97% approval rating, which would be pretty much as good as it gets. I also enjoyed the reactions come in on Twitter – thanks, all:
— Kr. Langborg-Hansen (@klangborg) 1 oktober 2012
(Two microphones broke down in sequence, and I decided to not have the audience wait. This was the opening keynote, after all. Instead, I used the voice capacities from my officer’s training – you just talk calmly but really loud, and it doesn’t come across as screaming at all.)
— Sam Newman (@samnewman) 1 oktober 2012
— Linda van der Pal (@DuchessFounder) 1 oktober 2012
(After a few minutes, I was equipped with a new mic.)
— Sven Peters (@svenpet) 1 oktober 2012
— Anders Rosen (@MrInlumino) 1 oktober 2012
— Mogens Heller Grabe (@mookid8000) 1 oktober 2012
— Harco Dijkstra (@dimban74) 1 oktober 2012
— Jez Humble (@jezhumble) 1 oktober 2012
— Simon Skov Boisen (@ssboisen) 1 oktober 2012
— Therese Hansen (@qedtherese) 1 oktober 2012
— Frank Vilhelmsen (@frankvilhelmsen) 1 oktober 2012
— Torben Hoffmann (@LeHoff) 1 oktober 2012
— Josh Graham (@delitescere) 1 oktober 2012
(Also, for marketing purposes, I love presenting in places like Aarhus. It’s a silly but very effective soundbite to say that you’ve given presentations in places from Aarhus to Zurich.)
Photo by Malene Rauhe.