Getting back to work
Wednesday, September 19, 2001 by Dave Winer.
I was talking on the phone yesterday, during a worm-caused outage, with my friend Craig Burton. Like me, Craig is lover of infrastructure. We get off thinking about new ways to string wires between tin cans to create new kinds of communication systems for people.
Like any other thoughtful art, we pay attention to what came before, looking for what's unique in a newly framed question, and what's been solved before. When possible, steal from the best. This is also called bootstrapping. It's creativity with respect.
Now I'm not an aircraft or skyscraper engineer, but I'd bet ten dollars they do it the same way. Was there a little bit of Wright Brothers invention that crashed into an idea from the Woolworth Building on September 11? Of course. It was the work of several generations to create the two pieces that went boom on Tuesday. They didn't just spring to life. They were bootstrapped.
Now, with a civilization that has enjoyed little or no war on its home turf since the Civil War, we've gotten good at this. The infrastructure of the US is a long-term suspension of disbelief that such things won't be exploded deliberately by people who don't create anything.
On both sides, we create revolutions and disruption, it's just that we've become accustomed to the revolutions that engineers create, we seek them out and celebrate them, and the idea that a human being could deliberately destroy so much was foreign to the American mind.
Not any more.
I have TV again.
I turned it off on January 1, and have watched about two hours of TV (at friends' houses, in hotel rooms, etc) until the TV came back last night at around 8PM.
I didn't miss TV until Friday, when I started heavy withdrawal. It went away by Sunday, but I got the DirecTv/Tivo combo installed anyway. It's like riding a bike or swimming. You don't forget how to watch TV.
Until now my POV was only influenced by NPR and the Web. Now I have to add a disclaimer, I'm seeing current events through the TV perspective too.
Heard on NPR yesterday, an account of how bin Laden's organization was infiltrated by an Egyptian secret service agent and prevented the destruction of the Holland Tunnel in NY a few years ago. The agent's motivation -- money. We paid him $1 million to work for us.
Hey, the individuals in the terrorist organizations like money. I didn't know that. So in addition to spending $40 billion to do the linear thing, going to war, let's have a fund for terrorists who turn against their leaders. We still have lots of cash. It's a good tool to return the terror.
Warning, this section is light-hearted. Please skip it if you think that's inappropriate.
Last night while flipping channels, I came across CNN and it had a big banner across the bottom (this is a new feature for me) that says America's New War, but I didn't read it that way -- I saw America's New Hair.
From there, it was a simple extrapolation with a friend. "Let's all get our hair done," I said, and the silliness continued from there.
Yes, I hope to poison your TV experience. Now when you watch CNN you'll think of the Hair joke, and maybe you'll laugh.
It'll be good for you, you'll see. ;->
Amid all the doom and gloom, I went for a drive mid-morning, and every color is so visible, and rich -- the only other times I've ever seen this is when I have been madly in love.
I think there's a huge opportunity now for people to come out of their normal everyday routine, which for some (me too, sometimes) is a malaise.
I know it sounds dorky but let yourself live in the moment, and don't count on there being many more. Even if you're wrong, and you live for a long time to come, in health and prosperity, you still win.
PS: POV stands for Point Of View.
PPS: NPR stands for National Public Radio (US).