Transcript: Arianna Huffington on We Are Drowning in Data and Starved for Wisdom

Interviewer: Good luck getting sleep after 500, 600 people email you their blogs. But before we move on, just on the point of the platform, given that it was always meant as this medium for anyone to share their opinion and voice pretty much unfiltered. What led to the decision to share your name with it, knowing that your personal reputation will be associated with the material posted on the website, and how, if at all, has that affected the curation process?

Arianna Huffington: Well, I was always, like all in. There was never any question of separating myself from the Huffington Post. I have to say that my daughters begged me not to call it the Huffington Post, because they thought it was just going to be an embarrassing failure and they would not be able to show their faces at school. So I remember tearful moments with Christina and Isabella saying you can’t call it the Huffington Post, that’s so embarrassing. And Isabella, my younger daughter, announced that she will never blog, and she hasn’t. And so that, for me, it was all like saying, I’m all in. This is it. And curation though has always been a very important part of it, like from the beginning even though the platform was open we have ground rules, like we will not publish conspiracy theories. Like if you think 9/11 was an inside job, we’re not going to publish it on the Huffington Post. We’re not going to publish cookie medical theory. So we create a set of boundaries, that you may disagree with people who are writing but it’s not going to be because they are insane.

Interviewer: It’s always helpful, a good boundary to have in life in general. So, some of your recent books lament the lack of surprise in the modern world and yet, I know that this is a reason from the fact that an online content is filtered based on preexisting preferences. So how would you think through the fact that some platforms similar to Huff Post are responsible for creating this bubble effect and kind of narrowing our preferences? And are you thinking of ways to introduce serendipity again online as browsing once did?

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Arianna Huffington: Well, right now actually, what is happening is that the majority of people don’t receive that information by going to a destination but through social. Even the Huffington Post, which is probably the last big destination site, gets now the majority of our traffic through social, through people posting something that they’ve read on the Huffington Post, on Facebook, or tagging their friends. So this is kind of a revolution in how we create a site. I tried to convince friends of mine, for example, who are starting a new business and are investing a lot of money in their website, how useless that is.

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