Amanda Ernst

Jeff Bezos Talks About The Kindle’s Surprising Success

bezos.jpgAmazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos spoke today at Wired magazine’s Disruptive By Design business conference, revealing how successful the Kindle — in all its forms — has been during its 18 months on the market.

According to Bezos, 35 percent of the sales of the 300,000 books available for the Kindle have been sold in electronic form. “Internally, we are startled by that statistic,” he said.

Bezos was also very optimistic about the Kindle’s success moving forward. He seemed certain the device will eventually replace physical books.

“Reading is an important enough activity that it needs a purpose built device,” he said. “Some people ask me, ‘Why would I buy this device, it only does one thing?’ That’s exactly why you should buy it.” Then Bezos revealed that he gets “grumpy” whenever he’s forced to read a real book. “I didn’t realize all the failings of a physical book,” he said. “[Books have] had a great 500 year run. It’s an unbelievably successful technology, but it’s time to change.”

Federal CIO Kundra: “The Default Setting Of The U.S. Government Should Be Open”

kundra.pngFederal CIO Vivek Kundra spoke at Wired magazine’s Disruptive By Design business conference today, demonstrating data.gov, a new online hub for data from government agencies. Although Kundra (left) conceded that data.gov has to be careful of the information it publishes — in order to avoid violating citizens’ privacy or throwing off the financial markets with faulty info — he said he hoped to facilitate transparency of government agencies.

“The default setting of the U.S. government should be open,” Kundra said, adding that he hopes to publish data from government agencies across the board in order to allow the American people to manipulate and use it. In fact, Kundra said his office is now accelerating the pace that they are publishing information. There will be 100,000 feeds available by the end of the week, he said.

But what sort of information is available on data.gov? Kundra said the information will be everything from flight delay data, as well as reasons for flight delays, to Internal Revenue Service data or even updates about the spread of the H1N1 flu.

Of course, this might sound good to us, but not everyone is happy by the great strides taken by Kundra and his team. Government agencies that are used to requesting millions of dollars in funding for technology updates or “people who want to maintain the status quo” will be thrown by this new transparent approach to information distribution. But Kundra doesn’t mind the naysayers.

“The federal government does not have a monopoly on the best ideas,” Kundra said. And creating transparency and openness through Web sites like data.gov will allow us “to return to real democracy as ‘We the people,’” he added.

Related: Wired‘s Chris Anderson: “The Free Vs. Paid Debate Is Misunderstood”