Music + Technology + Random Nonsense from the Music Industry by Ethan Kaplan, VP Product, Live Nation

ENOUGH with the parties, where is the innovation? What the fuck are we celebrating anyhow?

In 2005 when I started my job, it was the nascent cusp of the Web++/2.0/whatever movement. The intention seemed to be taking the power of the Internet back as a connective medium and apply that as a means of shortening the distance between want and action. Basically that means using technology to connect people rather than exploit them.

The movements in technology were centered around ways to share ourselves through media and discourse. They removed the isolation of Web 1.0 and applied the lessons first applied on the Internet in the beginning (WELL, etc) and took them out of textual and into multimedia context.

Now, along with the innovation, a new form of journalism emerged that centered around a mix of business journalism, tabloid and reportage. It was refreshingly non-breathless, to the point, full of personality and the events and people around this centered around a kind of geek-summer-camp notion of “wow, we’re all alike!”

Somewhere along we lost it.

Where there used to be innovation, discourse, commentary and debate, I feel like the Web world and blog world has devolved into the equivalent of shrill party planners repeating each others noise.


  • Press release rehashing
  • Reblogging
  • Retweets
  • Regurgitation
  • Bitchmemes (yes, irony intended) and LinkBait/DiggBait
  • Made for TechMeme/Made for Digg content

And then the parties.

You’d think that with the brilliant minds that are applying themselves to the great issue of how to make money in a decentralized medium, we’d have a way to come up with something more exciting than parties.

Mashable at this point is weak content mixed with party planning. What does Mashable actually do besides plan parties which celebrate absolutely nothing? Rehash other people’s news rather than breaking their own? Not adding any editorial to any content, and strictly reprinting press releases basically? At least TechCrunch has attitude. They have 8 parties going on this summer. EIGHT! TechCrunch has a party too that Arrington twittered about. Great.

So can I propose we curb the parties and maybe use that sponsorship for something other than trying to be heard and drinking crappy booze? I can get drunk with geeks and it’d be a lot more fun than at a bar sponsored by Sun.

Rather: use the money and create salon’s that serve to further discourse about the world we live in. I always say it: we’ve been given amazing tools, and just like I said after Gnomedex, maybe its time we use it for something other than gazing at our own belly buttons.

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10 Responses

  1. Finally, someone said it.

  2. Adam Hirsch says:

    Obviously, I must disagree with you on the content side. If you’ve been keeping up with Mashable you will realize that not only is our content unique, but we have several exclusive content pieces daily.

    Being on the business side of Mashable and responsible for starting the MashMeets and MashBashes, I think you have missed the point. The events aren’t celebratory parties, they are high profile, wide ranging and highly engaging networking events.
    Can you truly say you did not enjoy our LA event? Or really feel that you didn’t make any new real connections?

    Finally, I completely agree with you on the Salon idea and we are already hard at work in planning. However, in the meantime, Pete is off to meet our amazing readers to discuss, enjoy each other’s company and to meet the people behind startups in 7 cities across the country. To bring a great networking experience to those who can and will benefit from it and on top of that have a great time.

  3. ok bro what you’re writing here is an exact example of “made for digg” journalism: bashing a top Web 2.0 blog. All I gotta say is that mashable’s events are something completely innovative. Its not just the concept of an industry event; its their relentlessness at bringing the web 2.0 community together. I think the in person relationships that are built at these meetups are invaluable and lead to further innovation. All I hear you saying is that innovation is at a standstill. My take is that a lot of ideas have been done and some newer ideas than social networking and newer technologies than Ajax will change that again soon. So my general thought when I read negative stuff like this is: “Why don’t you spark innovation by sharing new ideas rather than bashing other thing?” period. What’s your next startup idea? Let me guess its super private and u rather not share it, even though that would truly spark innovation. Stop complaining man and start doing. Let’s see how many hits u get off this made for techneme article!

  4. oh and in defense of mashable, they do a flawless job of capturing all the news I need to stay 100% in touch with the Web 2.0 industry. They’re job isnt to write opinion pieces. They have reached a level where they need cover everything and not miss a beat. That being said they are not guilty of any the things you listed above except for rehashing, which is what’s required of them to keep people like me happy who actually build software. I don’t have the time to go sifting through blogs all day. Mashable is my go to source and I’d like to keep it that way. That’s also kinda how it works. The major news sources cover everything.

    from – “The Startup Incubator”

  5. Mashable does a lot more than just parties.

    But touching on those parties, those events bring people together.

    I co-organize a networking even which takes place monthly. It’s normally just a bunch of people getting together, drinking, then usually some presentations. We have a great time doing it, but what we’re really doing is connecting people to other people that they need to meet.

    Mashable does the same thing. People need a reason to come together to meet other people and Mashable provides that avenue to people. They actually go out of their way, spend the money [and time], and bring together people in the tech community.

    Additionally, it’s great exposure for their brand and their advertisers.

    I don’t expect to learn about social media or anything even social networking-wise at these events. It’s simply a reason to come together, meet new faces, and get connected to people.

    As far as content goes, sure, not everything they write is 100% social networking, but they do a dang good job of staying on top of whatever I need to know. I read mashable daily and it’s quality content.

  6. Anthony Cole says:

    And the great thing about the parties is that they’re really not that innovative at all. From someone who’s been to a few, they’re useless. You think they could do something else with their lives.

    In the past week I’ve really just given up on the internet. It’s so useless. I’m close to closing my twitter account because I just can’t even stand it anymore. I’ve lived in Silicon Valley most of my life and San Francisco isn’t all it has been made out to be. It never has been and never will be. The culture has pushed me away from the industry and I’m growing increasingly burned out every day.

  7. Jay Cuthrell says:

    Parties are only as productive as the participants. Any innovation happens in their wake… pounding jägerbomb doesn’t write the code.

    My favorite line when I was at SXSW this year was when someone came up to me and handed me a Mashable party pass for their exclusive event where you get turned away at the door without one… but it was handed to me with this backhanded phrasing:

    “Give this to someone that matters”

    i.e. you don’t matter but I am too busy to find someone that does matter right now so please do my job for me

    Yes, this stung a bit. However, I butched up and thought about it and figured I didn’t care to be at the Mashable event anyhow.

    So, I did just what was asked of me. I found a writer for Lifehacker and gave it to them :)

    Instead of the crying over not being cool enough for the Mashable event I attended a dinner with other SXSW attendees and ended up sketching up scaling patterns on the back of the paper menus with one of the other guests. Rock on!

    The point is, Mashable -does- want people that matter at the events. So, even if they are celebrating and doing shots… there is a good chance the social lubricant of booze will bring companies together to compare notes and build a kernel of understanding that might spill over into the non-party world… that bridges into an innovative take on something that didn’t exist prior.

  8. That last comment was hillarious. Such humility can do wonders!

  9. Jake Lockley says:

    Here here!

    I am an online veteran and Web 2.0 reminds me of the days when AOL opened up to let it’s users access the web. Suddenly the quality of content and users dropped faster than stock prices when the bubble burst.

    I am actually quite shocked you mentioned The Well because my biggest observation about Social Networks is the LACK of dialogue and community that existed before. Threaded discussions seemed to disappear with the advent of PHP when message boards lost their threading.

    These days I am part of social networks but they are little more than tools for observing what other people’s bookmarks, interests or status are. In the past there were communities that revolved around subjects or common interests and these communities were cohesive. It’s easy to walk away from a site, but not a relationship. I wish I could say that about social networks. The reason is the dialogue and interaction is gone in favor of what amounts to a broadcast medium – a broadcast of interests, opinions/comments, bookmarks, etc.

    These days I call Web 2.0 the narcissistic web, it’s all about me me me – look at me; look at what I think, look at what I can do. Blogs started as personal web logs and now blogs are just web pages with a content management system behind them. Many of them aren’t even RSS enabled. The web has turned into a broadcast medium.

    What’s happened? Everyone’s trying to get rich or be famous rather than take advantage of the strength of the medium to develop themselves as members of the global community and as critical thinkers. Critical thought has gone out the window in favor of people getting up on a global stage like a drunk dancing on a table at a party where no one has the nerve to tell them they’ve had too much to drink because everyone wants to see just how far they’ll go in making an ass of themself. As a result we’ve encourage technological decadence rather than productive growth.

    So where has it taken us? To a web full of applications and sites that are about wasting and killing time. Collective wisdom has gone out the window in favor of Gong Show antics without the Gong (for you younglings the Gong Show was a game show where people performed acts on stage until the judges could no longer tolerate it and hit a Gong to signal that the person’s time was up. Outrageous and ludicrous performances were short and not rewarded by the judges).

    The gong was like a wake up call, much like this post. Time to get off the stage and get back to doing something productive that promotes and encourages growth.

    The web is more than just a medium for promoting yourself, it’s a medium that empowers growth through free access to information, entertainment, communication and commerce. Web 2.0 has compromised much of that for fame or fortune.

  10. Exactly. Ironic thing is that most people here talk about the same thing, albeit between sips of wine and handing out business cards at whatever event.