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Let The World Change You

Wednesday, November 04, 2009 by Dave Winer.

I have a problem with entrepreneurs who say they want to Change The World.  Permalink to this paragraph

Isn't that a lot to take on? How do you know your idea for changing the world is what the world needs? What if you Change The World and instead of making it better you make it suck. What then? Permalink to this paragraph

I am a former young person who wanted to Change The World himself. I look back at that young person, and think -- he was lovely in many ways but he made a pretty good mess of his life, because he had no clue who he was and how he got that way. Change The World? Good thing that didn't happen! A picture named sidesmiley.gif Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named fdsmall.jpgAs someone who just watched his father die, I don't think any of us have the first clue how the world works. My father was a smart man, spent a lot of time thinking, and at the end, he may have understood 1 percent of 1 percent of 1 percent of how the world works. And some of that was based on faulty assumptions. Yet my father would always give a couple of bucks to anyone who asked for it. And if you wanted to take a picture of him, no matter how old or sick he got, he always put on a smile and let you take it, and if you asked why, he shrugged it off, as if there was any reason to care. A week before he died, I tried to teach him to use Twitter, but he said he didn't have time. He was right. Permalink to this paragraph

So I've recently seen the end. I don't think too many people get much further than my dad did. He lived to be 80, grew up in Europe, fled from a war, fought in a war, raised a family, was married 55 years, got an education, taught, went to museums and the ballet and opera, traveled everywhere, and I don't think he would have said, at the end, he had any idea how to Change The World. It's only youth that figures it knows, but that's because of strong chemicals and not knowing what you don't know. It's an illusion. Permalink to this paragraph

Change is made by all of us, over many generations. The best we can do is make a few other people happy for a while, make ourselves happy, and if you do that, and leave the place a little nicer for having been here, I say -- Job Well Done!  Permalink to this paragraph

Maybe instead of changing the world, relax, and Let The World Change You. That's closer to what actually happens in life, no matter how rich or famous (or not) you are. Permalink to this paragraph

See also: Transcendental MoneyPermalink to this paragraph

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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.


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