The regal Silicon Valley
Wednesday, October 24, 2007 by Dave Winer.
Watching various people (on Twitter) get on an airplane to go to Hawaii to an insider invite-only Silicon Valley conference, and thinking about the various business ideas the valley is floating these days, advertising, and how valuations work, and how unaccustomed the insiders are at having their ideas challenged, I came to a few rapid-fire conclusions last night on Twitter. (One good reason to follow me on Twitter is I tend to blurt out things there that would get me in trouble here on my blog.)
Twit #1: "I have a theory that 'user generated content' is a last-gasp of the regal outlook of silicon valley, where we're all chumps or slaves." (Before UGC we were just supposed to be eyeballs, consuming their shovelware, buying stuff we see in ads. They had to adjust their thinking when it became apparent that we were also interested in creating, though we're positioned as generators not creators.)
Twit #2: "The role of the tech industry is to create tools and players. To enable creativity, not harness and control it." (I think this is when it all works best.)
Twit #3: "If you're scared to hear what people really think you're not prepared for the world you live in." (I finally figured this one out. The reason so many people in SV say I can't be trusted (it's observable) is because I'm equally likely to say your product sucks as I am to say it's great. This is a culture raised on Gee Whiz editorial coverage, the adulation of MSM. When blogs came along they had to hear that not everyone thinks they're so wonderful all the time. Who would you hate most but the guy who pushed the tools that made everyone with an opinion so audible. And would you expect such a person to keep his opinion to himself? Heh.)
Guy Kawasaki asked me once why so many people say I'm not a nice person, when in fact I am. If I saw you on the street I'd smile and say hello. I stop when someone is in the crosswalk. Nothing makes me happier than making a tool that people enjoy. I try to listen to everyone, and I don't care how much money you have. I never answered Guy's question, but here it is. If you asked me why some individual person thinks something, I'd say you'd have to ask them. That's basic respect. Let people speak for themselves. If you ask me why 100 people think something, I'm even more clueless.
BTW, Guy and I weren't friends for a long time after being good friends for a long time. I much prefer having him as a friend, I missed his company while we weren't talking. He doesn't suffer fools, and he's the first person to question his own thinking if someone says he's wrong. I've seen him do it, and I was totally impressed. People like that figure stuff out. People who don't want to learn about bugs in their thinking go through life with a lot of bugs. Today, and beyond, everyone has great tools for saying what they think. If you can't stand to hear it, you're not going to like the future very much, sorry to say.