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Condoleezza Rice is the background image for today's Scripting News.
First there was Zuck, who hired an 85-year-old architect to design Facebook's new campus. Would he consider giving such responsibility to an 85-year-old software engineer? How about a 45-year-old one? Zuck is smart but very young, and one of the things you learn with age is about age itself. It's totally impossible for a 29-year-old, genius or not, to have any idea what his or her capabilities will be as he or she grows older.
I don't usually like to flaunt what I've learned in life, but on this issue, it's required. I was very scared of aging when I was 29. The fear grew as I turned 40. By 50 I was numb to it. Now as I approach 60 the only thing I fear are the disabilities that come with age. Age itself isn't a problem.
Then Drew Houston hires Condoleezza Rice as a board member. I didn't object although others did. They didn't have a problem with her age (59), it was her politics they didn't like. But if you will rely on such an obsolete person to be part of the governance of your company, why not as part of its leadership?
The disconnect: If Frank Gehry can be creative and break new ground at 85, which he certainly is doing, why the fuck can't I, according to the young people who now run our industry? Can't you find some competitive advantage from using the unique abilities that come with experience? Why didn't Dropbox hire a 25-year-old version of Ms Rice for their board? In the answer is a big aha moment, if you answer truthfully.
BTW, this motto is one of the reasons I don't bother offering an opinion about who a company chooses as a board member. It's powerless to threaten to stop using a product. It's also presumptuous. I don't think any company really cares whether one or two people stop using their product. Of course they do care if a substantial portion of their users do, but you are powerless to cause that. So if you really care, just do it.
I said on Twitter last night that Heartbleed is bigger than Watergate or the war in Iraq. I got a little pushback on that. Of course the numbers don't match up yet, but long before there were hundreds of thousands dead in Iraq, we were on an inexorable path to that. Iraq is a relatively small and contained geography, and the war started before the explosion of networking. Today, the scope of the net, things we use it for, reach into every corner of civilization. Even a slight collapse at the core of the net could disrupt things, and not in the nice way that creates 20-something billionaires.
Look, sooner or later there will be a meltdown of the net. We were headed for that long before Heartbleed. I never said what I believed because I didn't want to be the first to say it. But we have been building more complex systems and more life-sustaining dependencies on a fragile and insecure system. The ability to do harm increases with every new dependency. When the network equivalent of Katrina happens, it will be felt everywhere.
Imho the owners of tech are soon going to wish they didn't own it. So far it's been a very profitable thing. It's been changing for a long time, but till now the changes haven't been visible. It's hard to understand, but when we all feel it, we won't need analogies to explain it.