SxSW: Craig Newmark Interview

by Luke Wroblewski March 13, 2006

Monday’s SxSW2006 keynote featured Jimmy Wales interviewing Craig’s List founder Craig Newmark. Craig discussed his current role with the company, his thoughts on citizen journalism, and information warfare. Some of what was discussed:

  • Craig is very involved with customer service: replying to and managing the growth and community on his site. Most folks at the top of companies have too levels between them and their customers.
  • Information Warfare is a big problem on Craig’s List. Scams and fraud are expected and can be dealt with but spreading of false information (smearing, swift boating, etc.) is difficult to police and growing. Craig takes it all personally which is why he is so involved in customer service. His name is on the site.
  • Though crooks are early adopters their numbers are not increasing that much. The new people coming onboard are overwhelmingly trustworthy and good and hopefully may outnumber the bad guys over time.
  • Within a community most people get along. In the media, however, differences tend to be exaggerated. Left or right, there are good people and a few jerks on both sides.
  • You need good sources of news to run a democracy.
  • Through technology and content, newspapers have made themselves more irrelevant.
  • Craig's list overseas does not see too many cultural differences. But they do have English only sites.
  • Citizen journalism needs fact checking. This is currently a problem now but perhaps not that much later?
  • Craig’s philosophy is to get out of the way and let people do their thing.
  • Community can build things, but you have to be part of it. You can't abuse it -have to be very respectful of how they are and what they're needs are.