Written by Sean C. Stacey and Brooke Thompson

The afternoon keynote address was presented by John de Mol, founder of Talpa and Co-Founder of Endemol. Talpa may be recognized for, among other things, its questionable contribution to society of the Big Brother and Extreme Makeover television properties. His appearance was quite a coup for the Cross Media Week Foundation, as he very rarely makes any public appearances or speeches.

Mr. de Mol posited that we were entering what he termed the “Application Age,” meaning that the real value of technology is in how it is used and applied. The Internet enables content production, content delivery, mass communication and discussion of information and issues. This has already begun to be wholly embraced by the younger generation that has grown up with access to the Internet and, more recently, high speed broadband. Ninety percent of consumer created content is developed by users under the age of 30. These youths are digital natives, navigating cyberspace effortlessly in comparison to their parents’ and grandparents’ generations.

And content is an important first driver of new technology. As the Internet has expanded and filled out with content, access to it has been sought out by an increasingly accelerating amount of people. New technologies have always been first considered as luxuries by their consumers as they are initially available only to those with fat wallets. Yet as the prices drop, and as more and more people begin to enjoy and later rely on them, they become necessities. Automobiles were at first only available to the very rich; today it is far less common for people to consider their car a mere comfort.

The impact on society of these new technologies is always overestimated in the short term, yet strongly underestimated in long term. Thus, it is difficult to predict where they may lead us. According to Mr. de Mol, the coming decade will not be about having this and that, but will rather be more about having this or that or the other, however the user decides and prefers. The still emergent technology of the Internet, as well as mobile phone, computing devices and pervasive information access, will enable the people, but it is their own creativity that will empower them. His conclusion was that content would indeed remain king.