The actor, investor and first person to hit 1 million Twitter followers weighs in on the industry at CTIA
Turns out that Ashton Kutcher has a lot of the same problems you do. Twitter is too noisy. International roaming plans are expensive. Facebook, while great, has maybe become a bit overgrown.
The actor and investor sat down for a fireside chat today at CTIA in Las Vegas and had more than a few choice words for the mobile industry, and chances are you've heard a good many of them before -- and said them yourself. Things were a little winding, with moderator Julia Boorstin of CNBC keeping things moving, and nobody's breaking any real ground here. But it was an interesting chat from someone who's very much been at the forefront of the social revolution, for better or worse.
'The new religion is Facebook'
Best line of the talk. See if you can follow this one. Facebook connects friends of friends. Back in the day, from the first civilizations on, religion was the tie that binds. You worship the same tree as I do, so you must be OK. Down with the same deity as me? Come on in. You're a Christian, I'm a Christian, so it's cool.
So the new religion is Facebook. You're a friend of my friend, so I should be able to trust you. Never mind just how bad an idea that really is -- you get the idea. We have services now like Air BNB. There's a great deal of trust there. And services where you can loan out your car to a total stranger.
But at the same time, Kutcher lamented how Facebook, for as great as it is for what it does, may have grown a too big for some purposes. Not everybody on Facebook needs to know where you are, what you're doing, and what photos you're taking.
That has a lot to do with Facebook's filtering and group controls. They're there, but they're not great. I'd argue that Google+ does these things pretty well. But for Kutcher, that's where more niche apps come in.
So what does Kelso use?
Where Facebook is bloated, apps like Path and Couple come in. If you're unfamiliar, Path is sort of like a smaller version of Facebook (that's way oversimplified), and it's got a gorgeous user interface. It's also been plagued with more than its share of privacy issues. Couple is more one-on-on sharing for that special person in your life. Or the next special person in your life.
For media, Kutcher is a Spotifiy guy, with Flipboard for consuming news. And, of course, there's Facebook and Twitter.
On Twitter: 'Media fucked it up'
You can kind of read into this two ways. At least I did.
"Twitter's experience has changed for me pretty drastically," Kutcher said. "It used to be more personal for me. But I think, for lack of a better verb, media kind of fucked it up."
Now I'd argue that a celebrity's definition of "personal" might be different than mine, especially when you remember that Kutcher was the first to hit 1 million Twitter followers. That doesn't happen by being a hermit, and Kutcher hardly is the only celeb to maybe overshare on Twitter, only to have the media beat it to death. (And lord knows those of us who type for a living have our own skeletons.) But talk quickly turned to just how noisy Twitter has become.
"Media companies came in and pounced on it. The signal to noise ratio kind of stinks, and it's companies selling me shit that I don't want.
"Maybe I need to go and curate my feed a little better."
Guilty. As the guy in charge getting people to read this little site, I'll take full responsibility for adding some noise to Twitter. But that's what Twitter wants. It's what it's counting on. Can you even watch a TV show today without seeing a Twitter reference? What about watching the news? A movie trailer? It's impossible, and Kutcher knows it, and knows that he's as much a part of that noise (more so, of course) as anybody.
"And I'm bad about it, too. I have a movie coming out? Don't think I'm not posting it on Twitter. But I need to make it more curated for me."
But Kutcher's optimistic.
"The bigger vision for Twitter when Jack [Dorsey] created it (and I don't wanna put words in his mouth) was to empower intelligences from a community standpoint ... that was high value signal to noise. I think it'll get better."
The second screen - we're doing it backward
Talk turned to using mobile devices as the "second screen" when watching TV or movies. And Kutcher thinks it's being done backward. Your mobile device should be firing content off to the big screen, not distracting from it. That said, he also questioned why Hollywood hasn't made mobile devices a part of the viewing experience in theaters. I'm not sure I want to spend $11 or whatever to be in a room full of folks on their phones, but I get the idea.
On streaming video: 'Why are people putting their dicks on it?'
Yep. The minute you give someone a webcam and a live feed, a penis will appear. Welcome to the Internet. "Thank God UStream created a flesh-detecting system," Kutcher said. "People are dumb."
I agree. Keep it in your pants, gents.
Roaming and VOIP (Aka welcome back to the 99 percent)
Kutcher will be the first to admit he's not exactly strapped, financially speaking, but it's absolutely correct when he complaint about the cost and speed of data, roaming data internationally, and how Wifi and VOIP should be top priorities for wireless operators. That's something we hear a lot about from the operators at this sort of event. Every. Single. Year.
Get the full rundown in our liveblog
These are but a few choice snippets. Yes, penises and expletives and all. Be sure to hit up our archived liveblog for more pictures and the full talk.
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