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Why is technology important?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009 by Dave Winer.

A picture named ronaldMcDonald.jpgI just wrote a piece about the J-school of the Future over on Rebootnews. After writing it, I sent a note to Doc Searls and JP Rangaswami of British Telecom, both of whom are participating in the Supernova conference in San Francisco. (I listened to JP's talk on the webcast and was, as usual, impressed with his thinking.) Permalink to this paragraph

I asked JP if any of the technologists he employs could explain why technology is important. It was kind of a challenge, because I find that so many people who call themselves technologists don't have an answer to that question. His talk was about this subject, so I thought it was fair to bring it up. Had I been interviewing him I would have. Permalink to this paragraph

Anyway, the answer: Technology is important because it empowers people. That's where you start. Not in novelty or neatness, not in the fact that it changes things, because it might change things by disempowering. Change is not in itself a valid reason for anything.  Permalink to this paragraph

The only reason to have technology is that it gives people power to change things for the better. Note that the technology is not the subject of that sentence, people are.  Permalink to this paragraph

I don't think you can even begin to be a technologist if you don't have a passionate view about technology's importance. It has to be the reason you're doing it. Not because you have an aptitude for it, or want to make a lot of money, or want to change the world, or prove yourself or show your father (uncle, mother, sister, brother, best friend) that you have the stuff to make it. None of those things make a technologist. Permalink to this paragraph

If you're not thinking about people, all the time, in everything you do, then you're not a technologist. Permalink to this paragraph

Usually I put an "imho" at the end of statements like that, but this one is so important, I'm leaving it off. Permalink 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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