Christian Heilmann

Media Interviews – or “How I became an accidental file sharing hero”

Monday, December 15th, 2008 at 7:59 am

Two weeks ago I went to Sweden to attend a geek meet and give a workshop at bwin. I didn’t know that me coming to Sweden was big news, but apparently this was the case and the people at creuna organized some interviews with me – one with the Internet World (still to be published) and one with Dagens Industri – the Swedish equivalent of the Financial Times.

Well, first of all I made sure that both understand that I was there as Chris – not as Yahoo, so all my views in these interviews are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of Yahoo. This is important to point out as I cannot speak for Yahoo unless I officially say so.

Secondly I was pretty amazed how the one hour interview came down to me saying that illegal file sharing cannot be stopped. What happened was the following:

We started the interview with me explaining that I am here as Chris and for the geek meet – and that I will not comment on any Microsoft/Yahoo related debates (as the interviewer had brought printouts of this information).

We talked about:

  • how I get deja-vu moments of the first .com crash right now,
  • what I talked about at the geek meet (the importance of performance of your sites and how cool it is to play with the web’s data),
  • where development is going in general (there are a lot of free hosted services and data here, use them),
  • the idea of open source and how it empowers you to create innnovative software fast as the world is your testers and contributors and
  • we touched on file sharing and how the speed of the distribution is a great example of how we should distribute all our products on the web – something a lot of companies already do.

What came out of the interview is this (translated with Google translate – as the site has frames, this is a bit of a pain):

Yahoo-evangelists: “Illegal file sharing can not be stopped”
Chris Heilmann, Yahoo
The illegal file sharing can not stop because people will always find a way around laws and prohibitions. It says Yahoo-evangelist Chris Heilmann, and calls on companies to see the possibilities of illegal file sharing instead of trying to fight it. “This is an effective way to disseminate information across the world and should really be something one would have to pay for,” says he.
“I think it is better to join than to try to combat.”
Chris Heilmann are glad to work at Yahoo, which he considers to be an open business. As evangelists, he is having and developing new applications for Yahoo but he also goes around the world and lecturing. He always puts his lectures on the Internet and it is then open for others to use them.
“This has given me much back and people have translated my förläsningar free in a lot of different languages,” he explains.
As the author of four books has he himself had their works pirated copied and distributed online. He says that as soon as he releases a new book is the downloaded as a PDF file, the day after.
“I do not care and tells my publisher that it costs more than it gives to try to stop this. People who want to buy a book makes it and people who do not want a book download a pdf. This does not affect the reading or sales, “he said.
So you think companies should just accept this?
“Does this happen as it happens, I do not think you can stop. In the 1980s, could studios releasing the film on several different occasions around the world and earn money every time. They do not seem to have understood that the world does not look like longer, but the Internet has done so everyone can get the video when it comes out, “answers Chris Heilmann.
“Instead of embracing this and see it as an opportunity called everything from piracy and illegal file sharing.”
According to him, the copyright laws that often put to it, and he is tired of companies that obstruct the material and excludes certain countries from taking part of it. He thinks that the basic idea to the internet is freedom and openness and that people often forget about it.
He also seems to have an eye on the file-sharing debate that is ongoing in Sweden.
“Sweden is a great country in terms of copyright laws. Take, for example, Pirate Bay, which they have pursued for years without anyone has been able to do something about it,” he says.
“I do not understand what people do not understand – opening up is a good idea.”

Bit condensed, isn’t it? Then again, it doesn’t contain anything I don’t believe in – I would love to use Hulu.com and might even click their ads but as I don’t live in the US I can’t. I have to say I liked giving the interview and the interviewer was very interested in the whole concept of Open Source and Creative Commons – however, when I asked to get some of the photos they took of me I was told that that’s not the way they commonly work :)

Update: Apparently I missed a second post in the magazine where they cover the other bits we talked about :

Translation:

“The situation is similar at the it-crash”
Updated 2008-12-14 09:36
Chris Heilmann – veteran of the IT industry and now “evangelists” on Yahoo – think that current market situation and then it-bubble burst similar. Now he is afraid that companies will save on the “wrong” things that stand. “As IT bubble burst ended companies that believe in their developers – people who built up the company’s technology lost its credibility. Now that companies are saving as much money, I can see in me a similar situation, “says Chris Heilmann to di.se during a visit Sweden.
After the crash, it was the great lack of money from many big IT companies, which, according to Chris Heilmann led the people did not have the space to play with new ideas.
Chris Heilmann think it important that business now rather than save money by doing the right things, for example by making their staff and their products more efficient.
He also hopes that the IT companies spend their money on solutions that make people’s lives easier and not a lot of “nonsense”.
“Take Facebook for example, 90 percent of applications as there are types out to throw a sheep at someone or something similar. Such a thing will get attention and to withdraw the money in one month but does not help people at all”, he says.
He also advocate that more companies open up and share information on their systems. This allows creative people come up with solutions without companies even have to ask or pay.
Here he finds his own company Yahoo has come a long way. Yahoo recently began offering the opportunity for people to make use of free technology behind the company’s search engine to build their own. If it becomes a popular search engine, then Yahoo paid for the technology, or alternatively, a portion of advertising revenue.
“Yahoo has done this for a while now, our information is in principle free to use for everyone. I like this new approach and find it very brave of Yahoo. In ten years we have protected our information and our systems”, says Chris Heilmann.
What do you think that Google does better than Yahoo?
“I love such as Google Reader and do all my browsing through it. Then I think it was brave and well done to develop the browser Chrome,” he responds.
“I have no problem to tell people what I think Google does well, but compare itself with its rival all the time it is just a game. If Yahoo tomorrow is better than Yahoo today, so we have come nowhere.”
In the future, he thinks today’s portal – a sort of bulletin boards, which gathers information from various Internet – will die out. Instead, he thinks the sites are becoming more and more personal. He argues that this is the way to go if companies want to continue to make money from advertising.
“For me personally, there are too many different things such as Yahoo. I do not care about the weather in Palo Alto, or how the stock market yesterday, I just want to have news and my e-mails,” he explains.
“Companies must give people the chance to choose the type of information they want. Advertising can only succeed if you know what people are interested.”

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