KKL-JNF at the Presidential Conference: What's New in New Media?

Sunday, June 24, 2012 3:21 PM

“I discovered, to my great delight, that Israel is a fascinating country for new innovations.”  - Stephane Richard, Chairman and CEO of France Telecom

As an organization whose activities focus on the interface between man and the environment, and how to benefit them both, KKL-JNF makes extensive use of the new media both in Israel and abroad. New media is infiltrating and affecting all areas of our lives—socially, educationally, politically, economically, in entertainment—in short, in everything.
How do the leaders in the field of new media see tomorrow from the different angles of their trade? Are they taking responsibility for the changes they are facilitating? What are the new technologies that will be available to us tomorrow? These were some of the questions addressed at the plenary session entitled What’s New in New Media, which was chaired by Dr. Yossi Vardi, one of Israel’s most renowned entrepreneurs

Shimon Peres addresses the audience. Photo: Yoav Devir

Julius Genachowski, Chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said that new media has the potential to bring growth and prosperity to the region. He mentioned the central role of social networks in the changes that have transpired in the Arab world, and especially emphasized social goals that the new media can help promote such as health, education, safety, energy, economic development and the creation of employment opportunities. “Even in these times of economic challenges, the communications industry is flourishing,” he said. “There is a myth that the Internet is reducing job opportunities, but studies have proven that for every job the Internet obviates, 2.6 new jobs are created. Another myth is that the Internet creates jobs only for engineers. This is also not true. It creates jobs in different fields and in different locations.”
Maurice Levy, Chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe S.A., a media company in France, said “If there is one thing we can be sure of, it is that we are living in changing times. People are using the Internet, cellular phones and all the platforms in ways their inventors never dreamed of.”
Concerning social media, he asked, “Who would have imagined that Facebook and Twitter would enable the Arab spring? The tools change in the hands of their users, and this will continue happening in the future. No inventor can tell you what is going to happen tomorrow. It is the people that are changing the world.” He noted that the major inventions are not coming from the established companies but from people with new ideas.

Photo: Yoav Devir

Stephane Richard
, Chairman and CEO of France Telecom, said that this was his first visit to Israel. “I discovered, to my great delight, that Israel is a fascinating country for new innovations,” he said. “The world is going to get more and more connected. The forecast is that we will soon get to seven billion cellular phones, i.e., one per person, although not with equal distribution, of course. This will assist in transmitting information and promoting democracy in many countries."
On the other hand, he proposed that we not be naïve. “Communications development requires great investments in infrastructure. This requires a lot of financing, and the companies will have to find new ways to create revenues. We have to be careful not to create bubbles that could burst and cause a lot of damage.” He also spoke about the ethical issues that the Internet has generated, such as management of private information and the safety of children. “These aspects of the digital world also have to be taken into account,” he concluded.
John Chambers, Chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems Inc., and one of the most influential entrepreneurs in the USA, explained that new media means information on demand for all people in all places at all times. “We have to look at the future the way the young people do. Our children think that information and communications are basic things like food and shelter, and this means that they expect to get them for free.
“Countries that do not prepare for technological changes will be left behind,” said Chambers. “These changes will be affecting all of us. If you would like to know where all this is going, try imagining the world like a thirteen-year-old child does."
At the end of the session President Shimon Peres and John Chambers announced the extension of the MaanTech project, which is an initiative for promoting the inclusion of Arab Israelis in high-tech industries through a collation of 22 high-tech companies. Hundreds of hi-tech people will be employed through this project.
“I am always asked about my age,” said President Peres. “My answer is that everyone can be as young as their dreams. Don’t look at the calendar, look at the future.” Regarding new media, he said, “For me it is not about technology but about a human revolution. This is the biggest and the most successful revolution in the history of the world, and it is changing our lives.”

The MaanTech project. Photo: Yoav Devir