Changing the World: That’s crap!

27 07 2007

Today I watched the new GigaOm show on Revision3. Of all the bits in the show, I was most impressed by Seagate CEO Bill Watkins’ comments about his irritation with some Silicon Valley leaders spouting to be “changing the world” and a suggestion that some of those same people need to start by changing and being involved in their communities first and foremost.

It turns out it wasn’t the first time he’d made such comments. Valleywag deemed him a hero (but Engadget thought his frankness was refreshing, but maybe a little too frank) for earlier comments:

Let’s face it, we’re not changing the world. We’re building a product that helps people buy more crap – and watch porn.

I don’t know if his later comments from the GigaOM show implies a subtle jab towards anyone in particular, but either way I found it particularly refreshing.

Everyone doing something wants to think they are changing the world, or are working a goal that can change the world.

Even the realistic sentimentalist wants to think that we are changing the world in some small way. And that’s what I think is the subtle distinction: changing the world is about making the world better for one person at a time. For if you hold your delusions of grandeur above all else, you forget that changing the world is really about helping people at literally that granular of a level.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s all worth it. I wonder if it’s better to be a teacher and just help set some kids in the right direction, changing their lives in some very small way.

Technology and enterprises do, however, have a wonderful opportunity to change a life in a small way, many times over. And that can mean a lot in the aggregate, which is why we stick it out. But let’s be clear about where that starts, which hopefully is the broader lesson of Bill Watkins’ entertainingly frank comments (sob).


Free in Vegas & Home Media Expo

20 07 2007

I just got back from Las Vegas and sweltering heat, yet the hotels and streets were packed with sweaty tourists loving every minute of it.

There’s a lot of free things to do in Vegas and you can get rooms inexpensively, especially for what you get. You can get away with a cheap trip in Vegas.

Once you see a show, step into an expensive restaurant/bar/nightclub, or most imporantly sit down at the wrong table, throw the cheap trip out the window.

I’ve been looking at free versus paid lately. You can support free with advertising or other support or you can surround free with compulsions that are painstakingly hard to get away from and often make people happier than the free stuff itself. Vegas is the master of the latter.

My thoughts about Home Media Expo are on the iLetYou blog.

Transformers: More than meets the eye?

2 07 2007

Transformers has hit theaters and I’ll be viewing it with my fellow Generation Y’ers tonight.

This is the first time I can remember a “those were my favorite toys” nearly across the board.

It’s even become forgivable that Michael Bay is the director, maybe enough to forgive him for Armageddon and Pearl Harbor? Luckily, I’m hearing it’s the best movie Michael Bay has done and largely exceeding expectations. Over the top dramatics aren’t always bad, so long as it doesn’t involve Ben Affleck and animal crackers.

Either this means I’m getting old or it also possibly signals to me a shift in generations, where a new round of nostaglics including Transformers, Super Mario and Duck Hunt starts to transplant Night Rider, Pac-Man and Pong (you can probably instantly tell what generation I’m from based on these generational generalizations).

Nostalgia is a powerful thing and with successes like the Wii and now presumably Transformers that I personally relate with, it really hits home.

Within the hype around Web 2.0 and rapidly more powerful technologies, there’s a general aura of moving back to simpler things and simpler joys. The hottest technology companies today are largely successful because of the simplicity of their design, sometimes an even larger technical challenge even aside from the design challenge. As always, I think this move towards simplicity in stuff and joys is a great thing.