I’m coming up on ten years here in the hotbed of technological wonder. I’ve had the privilege of working with everyone from brilliant computer scientists who invent useful, groundbreaking tools to carpetbagging purveyors of vapor.
Every experience has been valuable. But today’s era is my most comfortable working zone so far.
Maybe it’s because I understand the better questions to ask, especially the followup variety that probe grand statements and detail-laden explanations.
I think, though, it’s also because I use the platform upon which so many young companies and inventors perform in this era: the Internet. Like most of us, I have personal experience with its reach, on professional and personal levels. I know what it can do and what it should do.
So when I see as I have in the past few days, that, via the Internet, some wonderfully talented, uninhibited, courageous, energetic wizards seek a place beside the inventors who have shaped every generation of technology thus far, I’m thrilled.
This is their moment. Yet amid the enthusiasm and the charming arrogance and the ambition, there is a threat emerging — a threat that may slow our momentum and not for very good reason.
I’m hearing and reading that these bold titans seek to change the world. It’s said that they’re going to do it by creating platforms on top of the Internet.
The assertions that this company or that startup will be the tollbooth to or the bridge across or the mapmaker for the Internet completely contradict what Internet sages say and write about the greatest advantage of the Internet — that it is an open platform needing only inventive ways to leverage its speed and adaptability — that it’s a territory requiring no fences or property boundaries, just tools that are inherently valuable for what they do with content, thus worthy of investment and bound to generate reasonable profit within the reach of more than the elite inner circle of northern California and its favorite sons.
The Internet is the platform. You can make your mark on the world without owning its newest nation or gerrymandering its boundaries. That is, if when you say you want to change the world you mean using your talents to leave the world better than you found it — not just to enter the stratosphere of gazillionaires for the purpose of power, fame and notoriety.
You see, I have a feeling that there will be many marks left upon our world in this era. Many big things are next, not just one.
That’s because the Internet is what it is: territory that cannot ever be claimed or owned by a few, whatever their brilliance and drive and access to the current powers-that-be.