Move over, Senator McCain. When it comes to Internet newbies, you’re in distinguished -- even famous -- company.
I met a "big time" Hollywood producer recently for lunch. This guy was a super hero. A legend. (Super heroes have the best stories to tell and the greatest advice.) But in this case, I was in for a surprise.
This fellow had never communicated on the Internet with someone he didn’t know. Like other media execs, he still dictates messages to an admin assistant (whom he calls his secretary) and has them printed or read back to him.
He asked me how he could meet with more Web 2.0 entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley: "How does Hollywood meet you guys?"
The question gave me pause. Much of Hollywood is old fashioned when it comes to technology. You meet someone through someone by way of introduction and a system of verbal vouching -- that's just how it’s done. In Silicon Valley, we just friend each other on Facebook and call it a day.
My producer pal and I then discussed how Hollywood is behind the curve when it comes to the Internet -- by a few years, at least.
A panel discussion I attended, led by Quincy Jones III at AlwaysOn OnHollywood, was also revealing. Mega hiphop star Chamillionaire talked about Twitter and his reluctance to use it. Snoop Dogg's manager talked about the dangers of using the Internet because of fraudsters. Busta Rhyme's manager mentioned the trials of innovating in the music industry.
All of them wanted to meet the same "guys" the Hollywood producer did, which may force them off the cyber fence. Quote from Chamillionaire: "To heck with MySpace making all that money off my image and my cred!"
Chamillionaire said his friends call him a "nerd" because he figured out how to run his Web properties by registering his own domain name. He's now talking to Ning and setting up his own social network. [Ed. note: Here's hoping he fares better than some of his compatriots.]
I decided to push the envelope. I talked to Chamillionaire about Twitter and explained how to use it. He said he wanted to talk nerd with me but that he’d be laughed out of a club if he told his friends he used Twitter. "That stuff isn't cool and is too geeky for my scene, but I know I will make it big if I follow what you nerds do up in San Francisco."
Still not convinced he should use Twitter, he gave me his card.
I also asked the panel, "How do we bridge this gap? The question isn't how you meet us, it is how do we meet you? In a world operated by handshakes and meetings in private rooms where everyone has an agent, it's next to impossible for a startup without Nike cred to meet a mega star."
Bottom line: Hollywood wants and needs to get into the Internet groove. I predict more celebrity elbow rubbing at tech conferences and more merging of Hollywood and Silicon Valley. I call this the next phase of entertainment, straight to your fingertips and right off the Internet.
Tom Cruise, meet AJAX; AJAX, meet Tom Cruise. You're going to have a fun life together.
— Cyan Banister, Founder of Zivity.com