Being Part of Squawk Box

I spent part of my morning on Alex Saunders’ Squawk Box — a gathering place for industry analysts and thought leaders to discuss important technology issues of the day.

Topics today included Ariel Waldman’s harassment allegations against Twitter. This conversation digressed into what Twitter is… Is it a communications vehicle or is it media — like a magazine or website?

Andy Abramson had some well thought out comments on the matter and others had great points too. Andy likened the concept of harassing someone on Twitter to taking a megaphone out and broadcasting negative things about them in public.

The whole argument reminded me a tremendous amount of the Juicy Campus website and the problems the site is having as it seems to be a forum where college kinds primarily gossip about one another.

This conversation morphed into a discussion regarding freedom of speech and the refusal of YouTube to take down Al Qaeda videos from its site. Abramson shared that he thinks it is not a smart move for an American company to be associated with the idea that they are in any way supporting Al Qaeda. He didn’t imply that Google is doing so but he did mention others may see it that way.

We also discussed Gamestops’ decision to stop selling Microsoft’s Zune. This isn’t such a surprise as the device isn’t selling nearly as well as competing products from Apple.

Finally our focus was on Microsoft Live Search Cashback and how the system either stinks or will be a hit. I apparently took talking pills because I just could not stop rambling about how Microsoft is hitting Google where it hurts. "They are taking out Google’s revenue generating machine," I exclaimed.

Sure, this is a first step but if people are looking to a buy a product online, they now have to check out Live Search because they could get big savings. This especially pertains to products which are not discounted like those from Apple or Bose.

Alec likened this to a cash rebate and said he thought it was a great idea and some of us agreed. None of us thought this will hurt Google immediately but we did discuss how this service has the potential to get better over time. In addition (and in the totally opposite direction) we seemed to all agree that Microsoft Live Search is not such a great search engine.

One improvement I discussed would be a tool bar which totals your cash back savings on any website. So for example if I am on a page for any retailer, looking at an iPod Touch, my tool bar would tell me I could save $17 if I use it.

Alec Saunders does a great job with his daily Squawk Boxes and I am very happy I participated.

Disclosure: I own shares in Google

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