Majority Of Internet Leaders At First-Ever Webbyconnect Summit Predict TV Convergence Within Five Years

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More than 150 Internet leaders, including keynoters Michael Eisner, Arianna Huffington, and Vinton Cerf, debate future of Internet and emerging media at WebbyConnect.

62 percent of attendees at the first-ever WebbyConnect summit predict that convergence – especially the merging of TVs and PCs – will occur within the next five years, with 31 percent of those saying it will happen by 2009, Webby Awards organizers announced today.

The survey was taken at WebbyConnect, a three day event held from October 3–5 in Laguna Beach. The summit brought together past Webby winners, Academy members, and leaders in technology, advertising, entertainment, design, and politics, to explore the future of the Internet and emerging media.

Arianna Huffington, Michael Eisner, and Vinton Cerf delivered keynotes, while panelists included del.icio.us founder Joshua Schachter, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake, and executives from Google, MySpace, YouTube, Comedy Central, MTV Networks, and Heavy Networks.

“The dominant theme throughout WebbyConnect was that media convergence is inevitable, but there are still challenges,” said David-Michel Davies, executive director of The Webby Awards. “It’s no longer a matter of when, but how.”

Davies said that many of the keynotes and panels focused on the challenges and opportunities facing emerging media, especially in the areas of video and mobile content.

Arianna Huffington, who founded The Huffington Post in 2005, said the debate over “old media versus new media” was pointless.

“It’s not going to be ‘either/or’ in the immediate future; it’s going to be both,” Huffington said.

Huffington also emphasized the growing number of major media companies, such as the New York Times and CBS, which have recently announced plans to give away their content online.

“They are finally looking for long-term relationships versus one night stands,” Huffington said. “They’ve realized that promiscuity for profit is the way to go.”

Eisner, who founded Vuguru, a studio producing short-form video series for the Internet, stressed the importance of filters, explaining that consumers ultimately want “professionally-produced, story-driven” entertainment.

“There is a place for the editor, in fact, I think the editor is essential,” said Eisner. “The biggest problem that I see with the Internet is this user-generated stuff that I’m seeing. Like any democracy, an unfiltered democracy can turn into anarchy.”

Internet co-inventor Vinton Cerf closed the summit with a future-focused keynote touching on everything from the interplanetary Internet to the future of immersive advertising. He reminded attendees that the Internet is still in an extremely nascent stage.

“Most of the five billion people left who are not yet online will encounter the Internet first through mobile devices,” said Cerf.

Other highlights of the WebbyConnect survey included:

  • 43 percent of attendees would be willing to have ads appear on their mobile phones in exchange for cheaper or free service.
  • 48 percent of attendees predicted that the United States will vote online for president by 2016, with 11 percent of those predicting it could happen as soon as 2012.
  • 59 percent of attendees share a link to an online video with friends and family at least once per week, with 18 percent of those sharing at least five videos each week.
  • 59 percent of attendees are members of at least one social network, with 13 percent of those members of more than five social networks.
  • 66 percent of attendees said their personal memory had declined in the past three years.
  • 84 percent “Google” potential employees.

For more on WebbyConnect, including photos from the event, visit http://www.webbyawards.com/webbyconnect.

About The Webby Awards:

Hailed as the "Oscars of the Internet" by the New York Times, The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet, including Web sites, interactive advertising, online film and video, and mobile web sites. Established in 1996, the 11th Annual Webby Awards received a record 8,000 entries from all 50 states and over 60 countries worldwide. The Webby Awards is presented by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. Sponsors and Partners of The Webby Awards include: Adobe; The Creative Group; dotMobi; The Barbarian Group; CondéNast|CondéNet; Level3; Getty Images; Adweek; Fortune; Reuters; Variety; Wired; IDG: Brightcove; PricewaterhouseCoopers; 2advanced.Net; KobeMail and Museum of the Moving Image.

PHOTOS AVAILABLE at http://www.webbyawards.com/webbyconnect/photos/

Contact: Patrick Kowalczyk (patrick(@)mkpr.com)

Gita Chandra (gita(@)mkpr.com)

MKPR, 212-627-8098

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