Panelists: Craig Newmark (Craigslist), Saul Klein (Skype), Tina Sharkey (AOL), Mena Trott (Six Apart), Gil Penchina (Wikia)
Pic: Dan Farber; from left-to-right: Tina, Mena, Saul (doing a very good Robert Di Niro impression), Gil, Craig
Panel Blurb: "Users are becoming active co-creators of their media, commerce, entertainment, and communications experiences. Just how significant, though, is this phenomenon? How are business and social interactions likely to change in the era of peer production, and what are the implications for both newcomers and existing industries?"
Tina from AOL says opening up APIs is key now to get users to co-create. Mena from SixApart says people using their tools [MT, Typepad, etc] is key. Saul from Skype says Skype is focusing on enabling people to have conversations - voice is central, but video, sms and other things are built around that. Mentions SkypeCasts is "a new way for people to engage in public conversations on the Web". Gil from Wikia - "trust the users", a lot of their content is "controlled by users". Says users control the site and what's on it. Craig from craigslist says his site aims to engage the people on his site.
Both Mena and Tina say that people want their communities to be intimate, rather than e.g. 1000 people. Kevin notes that there is value in scale though. Tina says that AIM is a good example - has 42M users, but everybody has small communities. Gil says larger projects inspire people on Wikia, so in that sense large communities work. Tina says that would work with topic-based communities (rather than social ones). Mena says wikis have a lot of "observers", but if you want to participate then people like their community numbers to be smaller.
Saul says Skype is aiming to enable conversations and is bringing voice to the Web, across national boundaries and connecting to tools like blogs. Says Skype is at the beginning of bringing this kind of rich conversational functionality to the Web platform.
Craig says he sometimes fantasizes about bringing voice to craigslist, but is for future and not now. Doesn't want to be distracted from his core business. Tina from AOL says voice online is a complement to IM or telephone etc - giving more options to communities of interest. Mena says little audio snippets is adding something to blogging (but she doesn't like podcasting). Saul says Skype deals in live communications (incl IM etc), but being able to record conversations and publish that is interesting to Skype over the next 12 months.
Kevin asks how to make the 'markets are conversations' idea real? Craig says: [companies should] just get out of the way.
Kevin brings up Nick Carr attack on Wikipedia. Gil says they are a participative democracy, but only a small percentage participate. There is a hierarchy that makes decisions over conflicts, but people do have the opportunity to participate. There will be "bad people", but this is natural in large complex communities.
There was more discussion after this, with lots of references to UGC (user generated content), participation, etc. But I've covered the main bits of the panel, so I'll wrap this post up.