Web 2.0 conference coproducer John Battelle is asking IAC's Barry Diller why he bought the search engine Ask. Diller paints it not as a defensive move but an offensive one. His plans? For one thing, a whole bunch of specialized search engines, for travel, for tickets, for everything else that IAC owns. Maybe a clue to where Ask might go.

He's also apparently pinning his hopes on the convergence of traditional media and the Internet. That, he says, could lead to a change in the leaders--and I think he means in both realms. Hard to tell yet if he's right, or just wants to be right.

He's not convinced there's much for the masses in participatory media, though. "There's not that much talent in the world," he says. Talented creators of movies and the like, he adds, "won't be replaced by 18 million people with their [self-produced] videos." Challenged by OurMedia cofounder and executive director J.D. Lasica, he shrugs, "That may be an utter birdbrain statement, but it's mine."

That said, he says there has never been a greater opportunity for people with a good idea, thanks to the Net's knocking down barriers to media creation and distribution.

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