Transcript of the talk between Julian Assange and Eric Schmidt

Transcript of the talk between Julian Assange and Eric Schmidt

I am reading through this thing now, but the talk went for five hours, so there is quite a bit to dig through.  I am about a half down, and I have to say that this is great stuff.  There is plenty of thought-provoking discussion, ideas, examples, etc.  I am marking it down for quotes, so expect another post in a day or two.  I suggest you read the whole thing too though.

What’s in the room? A fear. Or two.

OK, you gonna hate me for this, but I just couldn’t resist and read one more question from the The Daily Post.

You’re locked in a room with your greatest fear. Describe what’s in the room.

I wanted to do a post like that for a while now.  But thinking of my fears takes away for a long time and then I don’t know how to connect them all,  with which one to start, and how to finish.  And on top of that I get really scared thinking of all my fears.  But, if I think in terms of the room, and I’m locked in there with my greatest fear, all of a sudden I see … just me.  And that explains at least four big fears that I have:

  1. Fear of loneliness.  That is probably my greatest fear.  I am not comfortable with myself for long periods of time, and I constantly need people around me.  I’d rather have the worst possible people next to me, than nobody at all.
  2. Fear of myself.  This one comes and goes.  But when it comes, it’s pretty scary, and, difficult to explain.  But I do fear myself sometimes.  For most time, I can control myself pretty well.  (Feel free to disagree.)  However once in a while I get into that mode where I have an almost out of body experience, watching myself from aside, doing something crazy.  It’s almost never good or bad, just stupid.  But having no control of it is scary.
  3. Fear of dentists.  And I hear you jump up immediately, screaming – YOU ARE NOT A DENTIST!!! And you are right, I am not.  But remember that this whole thing is hypothetical.  There’s me locked up in the room with my greatest fear.  Well, I am afraid of dentists.  I’ve had more than a fair share of bad experiences and something snapped.  I think I might be so afraid of them, that even if I become one, I’d still have the fear.  And given that fear #2, I might just once have an uncontrollable desire to fix my own teeth.  Isn’t that scary?
  4. Fear of the dark.  Yeah, remember that room?  Someone switched off the lights and closed the shutters too, so it’s pitch black.  That alone wouldn’t throw me into a panic attack anymore – I used to be afraid of the dark a lot more when I was kid – but given all those other fears in the room, I would be pretty miserable.

OK, enough, as I said before, these thoughts get me scared.  I should get of the Internet now and go hide somewhere with people and lights, and without dentists.

What are you afraid off?  What would be in that room of yours?  Answering ‘you’ is cheating. :)

This is your life. Would you read it?

A year or so ago, I’ve subscribed to the RSS feed of The Daily Post – a blog that tries to inspire people to blog daily, but providing questions, ideas, and unfinished thoughts.  I’ve checking with it once in a while, but often had enough things of my own to write about.  Still, I find their variety of subjects interesting.  And since, I’ve looked at them today, here is an example – This is your life:

If you could read a book containing all that has happened and will ever happen in your life, would you? If you choose to read it, you must read it cover to cover.

I totally would!  I think.  Sort of.  This is actually quite close to the arguments I held in a recent discussion at work.  A few of us in the office were discussing the benefits of finding out the gender of your kid during pregnancy, and doing DNA tests to find out which diseases are more pre-exposed to.

I’ve stood my grounds on the side of: the more information, the better.   Since the beginning of times, the human race was trying to find out more information, and then pass it on to the next generations.   That’s probably one of the reasons why we are social animals – to get easier access to peer information, and better insure the passing to next generation.  Humans have a large brain, and we found amazing ways to use.  We’ve started mining for information early on, and came up with ways to organize and communicate information better.  From cave drawings, to alphabet, to scrolls and paper, all through to digital.  We’ve traveled miles, went into great depths and flew to remote planets – all in the drive for more information.

And then, some choose to not know.  I don’t get.  I can understand information filtering, when it just becomes too much – not everybody wants a Ph.D. in every single science and art after all.  I do understand time and money constraints, when you just cannot afford to learn something, thanks to the costs of modern education.  I do even understand fatigue, when you have all the information at your fingertips, but just can’t take it anymore.  But when none of this is a factor, when you do have access to the information, and it doesn’t cost you much more to learn it, I cant’ think of a reason not to learn it.

Now, back to that book thing again.  I would read it for all the information that it has.  If it covers my future, my goods and my bads, and even if it covers my death and after-death – I would read it.  I want all that information.  The thought that stops me from saying that I would absolutely read all of it cover to cover has to do with time constraints.

I am 34 years old.  Even with a rough calculation, that’s over 12,000 days.  I haven’t lived all days to the full – sometimes I was sick, sometimes I was lazy, sometimes I just slept a day through.  But those weren’t too many.  I can probably imagine at least a half a page for each day of my life.  That’s a book with 6,000 pages, give or take.  I’ve also had quite a few of those days that would need a book of their own.  But, for the sake of simplicity, I’m not taking about those now.  I’m not the fastest reader.  It would probably take me a month or so to read through that.   And that’s only up to now.  I have no idea for how long the book goes further.  Every coupe of days add a page.  Do I really want to read for a month a full memory of what happened to me until now?  Probably not.  I have a blog with over 6,000 posts and I’ve never read it cover to cover, even though I wrote all of it on my own.  Sure thing it’s nice to read memories once in a while.   As I mentioned before, I do enjoy my ‘On this day …’ widget on the sidebar.  But that’s just a 4-5 clicks, not a whole book.

I would probably go for something electronic.  Like if I had a blog with all everything that happened or will happen to me, instead of that book, I’d love it more.  Just think of that!  A full life’s blog archive, with all the tools – search, post calendar, tags, categories, occasional images maybe – and all of that without any work.  Someone just gave it to you.  I would totally jump on that!

P.S.: Now I think I now why I don’t frequent The Daily Post blog.  It’s tricky.  They ask a simple question, and it throws me into a long post mode.

Jeff Atwood on parenthood

Jeff Atwood of Coding Horror fame is expecting two more kids – twin baby girls.  When something like this – a baby or two on the way – happens, it doesn’t go by unnoticed.  It consumes your whole mind and forces you to think and rethink everything.  Jeff is an excellent writer with a trained technical brain.  So it makes reading his thoughts on parenthood especially interesting – it’s a crazy mix of logic and emotions.

It’s also a history lesson. The first four years of your life. Do you remember them? What’s your earliest memory? It is fascinating watching your child claw their way up the developmental ladder from baby to toddler to child. All this stuff we take for granted, but your baby will painstakingly work their way through trial and error: eating, moving, walking, talking. Arms and legs, how the hell do they work? Turns out, we human beings are kind of amazing animals. There’s no better way to understand just how amazing humans are than the front row seat a child gives you to observe it all unfold from scratch each and every day, from literal square zero. Children give the first four years of your life back to you.

Congratulations, Jeff, and good luck with the pregnancy!

On technology revolution

Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, on technology revolution:

“There was 5 exabytes of information created between the dawn of civilization through 2003,” Schmidt said, “but that much information is now created every 2 days, and the pace is increasing…People aren’t ready for the technology revolution that’s going to happen to them.”

I’ve spent a lot of time with non-technical people lately.  People from different industries – shipping, real estates, and even music recording.  Most of these people are just getting into the whole technology thing.  Sure, they use Google to search the web.  But that’s not what I am talking about.  They are just getting started with using technology for their business.  And most of them are so far behind, that paper seems to them like the only working solution.

Talking to these people, there is a whole variety of subjects that have to be explained to them.  Even aside from technology.  Things like data consistency, workload scalability, process automation, backups, security, and more.  Consider for example a website.  Most of these people see a website with 5-10 pages to be an huge amount of work.  It’s almost like they need to hire a separate person to handle that.  For most of them, the fact that I have a personal blog with more than 4,000 articles in it, is mind-blowing.

When they are introduced to online tools for handling emails, documents, accounting, or project management, most of them need to pause for a couple of weeks, to process the information overload.  When they hear that blog posts and social media are more effective ways to communicate than press releases, they feel shaken, lost, and scared.  When they realize that most of the things they’ve learned in college are not too practical anymore, they get really stressed.

And these are people who are already familiar with Google search.  I know that there are layers and layers of people behind them, who have no knowledge of computers at all.  And those people will get online soon.  And they will need to change the way they think and the way they work.  And I have to agree with Eric Schmidt here, that most of those people are not ready yet.

But I think it will happen anyway.

A little thought on marketing

Sometimes, it feels like marketing is the hype of the millenium.  Or a decade at least.  There are marketeers, marketing divisions, online marketing, marketing this and marketing that.  But what the heck is this marketing thing after all?  Can we have it in simple terms?

Well, either I don’t understand a lot (and I don’t claim that I do), or I haven’t met with the right marketing people, or both, or something else, but what I am thinking is that marketing on its own is nothing.  Nada.  Not at all.

Before you eat me and my old shoes, let me explain.  Marketing is that thing that supposedely helps the product (or service for that matter) reach the customer.  Or the other way around.  And then maybe even convince the customer that he is actually satisfied by what he got.  Or maybe I am way off already.

Anyway.  To do that (connect the customer with the product or service), marketing people need to know three things.  First is the product or service – the destination.  Second is the customer – the source.  And third is, well, marketing – the path or possible pathes between the two.  Am I even remotely right ono this?  If I am, then let me tell you something – this doesn’t work.  How about that, eh?

Marketing on its own doesn’t work for exactly the same reasons that MIS doesn’t work.  MIS is this gray area between Information Technology and Business Administration.  It’s supposed to help them communicate with each other.  But because MIS never (or almost never, or extremely rarely) truly understands both the business side and the technical side, it only makes things worse.  Instead of having two languages – one very technical with lots of terminology and precise definitions, and another one business – with lots of money and people-related processes – the company now has to speak three languages, with the third one being a weird dialect combined and distored from the other two.

The product and the customer are like two magnets.  When connecting them, they will either be of opposite polarity and will hurry towards each other and live happily ever after, or they will resist each other as much as they can.  Is it possible to bring two magnets of the same polarity to each other?  Yes.  If the magnets are small and you hands are strong, you can pull them together.  That’s marketing for you.  Let it go and both magnets would be much happier.  And if they were of the different polarity?  Guess what?  You don’t need much force to put them together.

Back from the abstract world.  I think marketing makes sense on the secondary level.  That is, everyone should have a bit of marketing knowledge – from sysadmins and programmers to accountants and managers.  But marketing shouldn’t stand on its own.  In fact, if marketing is taught to everyone, then it can be that common language for everyone to help to understand each other.  The one that MIS so miserably failed to be.

Those who are at the top, they want to grow, increase, make more and better.  Those are down below, actually doing things, really know how to make things better or faster.  The problem is that they can’t communicate with each other usually.  So what they need is a little help in this area.  Not someone else who neither understands what is possible or not or how big or fast things can go.

That’s about it, minus a few disclaimers.

Disclaimer #1: all my knowledge of marketing came from working at or talking with people who are working at small or medium companies, the majority of which deal with information and technology.

Disclaimer #2: I was thrown off balance by a some marketing types recently.

Disclaimer #3: I had a few pints of a lovely Guiness draught before I typed this whole post in.

How often do you change your mobile vendor?

I was reading this post about Mobile World Congress over at Web Worker Daily.  This paragraph got me thinking:

At January’s Macworld show, Apple CEO Steve Jobs cited data from NPD showing that the iPhone already has 20 percent of the smartphone market after one year, and that Apple is selling 20,000 iPhones per day.

How often do you change your mobile?  And how often do you change your mobile phone vendor?  Are you a fan of one particular brand or do you like trying each and every one of them?

Mobile market is measured in billions of users.  And these users can be pretty dynamic about their devices and the choice of vendors.  Mobile phone is something very easily replaceable.  It’s not like a house, or a car, or even a laptop computer. The thought of how dynamic the market is boggles the mind.  One day you the king of the mountain, and the a couple of months later they don’t know your name. But then again you can get it back before the end of the year…