November 2, 2006

You've Gotta Fight for Your Right to... OLPC!

Today I read on engadget ("It's dot-com!") that the Classmate PC, Intel/Microsoft's competition to Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child initiative (now called "XO"), is now projected to cost under US$300, which is a pretty tight price for a notebook. Since Intel's offering runs Windows (which is, sigh, a standard for some folks) and is backed by two multi-billion-dollar companies who are willing to subsidize the crap out of it, I think the Classmate actually has a pretty decent chance of succeeding against the cheaper, open-source, string-powered OLPC machine.

Here's what I'm wondering: In the largest sense, is this bad? Or good?

But let's back up a bit.

--

I had spoken with Nicholas Negroponte for about a twenty minutes before I had any idea who he was. Whether this was because he was tired of being pawed by star-fuckers or he was simply messing with my head, I'm not sure.

I was up in the front row on a puddle-hopper flying into Monterey, accidentally thrown in with the richer folks because there's no first-class section on thirty-year-old prop-plane from Brazil. On a plane like this you are just grateful there are seats and not, like, giant cedar boxes of cargo covered in green tarps and straps hanging from the ceiling.

A dapper gentleman was seated beside me on the full flight; he had a copy of the London Times or some such, and the cut of his clothing and the way he carried himself pretty much said, "Hi, I'm old money." He turned to some smart-looking folks a couple rows back and said, "I've got a car waiting in Monterey, we can continue our conversation on the way to the hotel."

I was in an exceptionally chatty mood. "Flying in to TED?" I asked. He was just the tiniest bit dismissive in his tone: "Everyone on this flight is going to TED." Right, that makes sense. I mean, how many people want to go to Monterey at 10PM on a Sunday? I think we were doubling the population.

I made another weak attempt at humor: "Boy, I'm glad I spent the extra money on these first class seats!" (Since, uh, see, we were all in cattle-car seating.) He didn't get it: "Yes, I just flew in from London, and first class is a must on those flights." Right. So it is. Yup...

Ok, so I'm thinking, maybe this fellow prefers to be alone with his thoughts, that's cool. Long flight from London.

But then he decided he did want to be friendly, after all, and he offered me a section of his foreign paper. A universal ice-breaker, and also just damn good breeding, if you ask me. Or I might have been reading over his shoulder and making him crazy. I can't remember what section I took. But it led to me making some comment about business.

I asked him if he lived in London, and he said he actually had five (!) houses, all over the world. I can't remember where they all were. One was, if I recall, in the jungles of Cambodia.

What do you say to that? I asked (quite seriously) if land-mines are a problem, still, and he gave me a horrific figure of the percentage of people in that country who are missing limbs because of land-mine injuries. It was something ungodly, like 20%. (Again, I apologize for my bad memory, it's been a year and I didn't take notes. Don't take this as a factual story; I'm just trying to give an impression of the man here. If there are errors assume they are mine, not his.)

To lighten things up I asked how he managed to decorate five houses. I mean, don't you run out of ideas? I asked if he was a businessman, and he sort of demurred and asked me what I did instead.

--

On a side note, this illustrates a neat trick I learned at TED (from the lady kissing me in this picture) the very next day: everyone loves to talk about themselves. As the kissy lady put it to us in her talk on How to Make Friends at TED: "Ok, imagine you see Suzy Smartipants, and you're all, 'Oh my god! It's Suzy Smartipants! She invented... like... SPIT! I can't talk to her! I mean, spit!' Well, it turns out that you and Suzy already have something that you BOTH love talking about, and that subject is: 'Suzy.' Just go up to Suzy and say, 'Hey, Suzy, how DID you get the idea for spit?!'"

Possibly these were the wisest words I heard I at TED that year.

--

So, I launched into my "Delicious Library for Businessmen" speech, which was, naturally, dumbed down a bit for older business guys who probably didn't even understand that computers can fit on a lap now. "I write a program that lets you track all your stuff... CDs, whatnot... the cool part is it uses the built-in camera in your Mac to scan in barcodes... there was some hard math in that, I'm pretty proud of it."

Yes, truly, I bragged to the dapper gentleman about my mad computer science skills. I mean, why not? The great thing about talking to business dudes is you can tell 'em whatever you like: they don't know. "Oh, you're in business? Well, uh, I invented UNIX. Yah, that's it." (Actually, I probably would have gotten busted on that one anyway, since the next day I fucking met the guy who really DID invent UNIX. Also, I have to say it: Bill Joy has the most charismatic wife of any really rich ex-computer mogul. Seriously, damn.)

But I digress. So, I'm explaining to this nice gentleman how incredibly great my mad computing skillz are, and how I plan to change the world with these new-fangled "computers," and how I think making software fun could actually really make the world a better place. Also: blah blah blah me me me.

He's all "oh yes?" and "how interesting" and such. I'm pretty sure he's savoring what he knows is coming next and I do not.

So finally I'm all, "Well, if you're not a businessman, what do you do to get five houses?" And he says, "Well, I'm a professor, actually."

And I'm all like, "Abitchsezwhat?," except I didn't actually say that, although I kinda wish I had because I'm guessing it would have been the first and only time anyone ever said that to anyone in his family. Excepting possibly his brother.

"Really? What do you teach?" He's smiling big now... too big. My spidey-senses are tingling. I'm no poker player, but even I know when I'm about to get trumped. (I might be better at poker if I knew that "trump" is a bridge term.)

"Oh," he says, as noncommittally as possible, as he wants to keep this fish on the line until it's all the way in the boat (now I'm a fish who plays poker?), "I'm in your line of work, actually."

Now, let's just appreciate that phrasing for a second, shall we? "Your line," as in, you know, the field where I, Wil Shipley, am such a star. Computing is my game, he's just visiting... oh, he's good.

"Really?" I'm getting suspicious at this point. This man is enjoying this too much. "Uh, hmm, would I, uh, know your name?"

Smirk. Pause. "Yes."

Sinking feeling. "Oh... so it is?"

He silently reached into his satchel and handed me this business card:

[PHOTO: "Nicholas Negroponte, MIT Media Lab"]
--

TRUMP! TRUMP TRUMP TRIPLE-TRUMP! YOU GOT SERVED! YOU WANNA STEP TO THIS? SNAP! OH NO YOU DIDN'T! NOT IN MY FIVE HOUSES!

"Hi, I'm Nicholas Negroponte, and I founded the MIT Media Lab, ran it, and then quit so I could build laptops for every single child in the entire world."

--

Of course, I said the only thing I could: "Sheeeee-iiit, negro... ponte."

No, I wish. What I said was, "Oh my god! I know you! You're crazy!"

He looked just a little taken aback. I think I even heard him mutter, "Adumbasssezwhat?"

--

Here's the boring philosophy part of this story.

I've been thinking about the nature of fighting, about why we fight and when fighting is actually appropriate and just and good. I'm using 'fight' to mean any kind of conflict, from spending your life trying to bring down Microsoft to punching someone in the face until they fall down in a ring. It feels like we've entered a new age of fighting, and then fighting-backlash.

Most instances of fighting I can enumerate are what I'll call "fighting for ego," which is a fight that's not for any cause besides "I'm great, acknowledge me as your better and/or give me your resources, women, or money." This is the kind of fight we see at sporting events; it's not like the New England Patriots really are more patriotic than the Pittsburgh Steelers, and if the former triumphs they are not offering lead us into an age of enlightened nationalism, whereas the Steelers would build us more cars.

"Fighting for ego" is also the kind of fight in which almost every corporation is engaged -- corporations crush their competition not because it will be better for society, but because they want more money, and owning the market leads to money. For example, I would love for someone to try to argue that Microsoft has some mission besides "control all money in the entire world," but I've already had a birthday this year. But I'll also state that Apple, whose technology I admire, is not really morally that much superior. They've done shady business deals and ignored contracts just so they could triumph over their opponents. (There are certainly things I admire about Apple, like Steve Jobs' open support for Democratic candidates and ideals, as opposed to Microsoft's policy of giving piles of money to both sides so that whoever ends up in power is beholden to them.)

Stop for a second, though... this is NOT to say that everyone working for Apple or Microsoft is immoral or even amoral. I know, KNOW, that there are many, MANY people at both companies who believe they can make a difference in the world by making computers better. And I admire those people, no matter where they work. And I know that Bill Gates, the person, is very dedicated to charity, and bully for him. I am simply saying that companies, as independent entities, have "personal survival" as their absolutely primal goal. Companies are not really trying to better mankind or our lot. (Again, for an exception, you could make a very coherent argument that Google is a moral company, and you certainly would get no debate from me.)

Television is pretty much comprised of fights for ego. Survivor: "Watch people do crappy things to each other and stab each other in the back to get 15 minutes of fame." Rush Limbaugh: "I'll say the most heinous and hypocritical things imaginable in order to get fame or infamy, I don't care which." The nightly news: "Screw enlightening the population, we need to steal eyeballs from the other channels... more stories on how your cats might be killing you! FIND OUT AT 11!"

And, of course, we have the war in Iraq. I'm dying to hear what tangible good we accomplished over there except stroking Bush's ego. No, sorry, to be precise, I am not dying, 600,000 Iraqis are. Did. Whatever.

--

The backlash on all this is that many people have apparently decided that conflict itself is inherently bad, just because there are so many examples of conflicts with bad motivations. I don't agree, but that begs these questions: When do we need to fight? When is it right?

My answer: When we're doing it for something larger. Some concept grander than ourselves. We're fighting for something that's right. And not right in the "my God told me your God sucks"-sense, not right in the "We're right because we're America and if you don't love our country you should leave you damn mexican jew lizard"... right in the "I can point to tangible good effects this will have on other people without causing a lot of tangible harm" sense.

There's an interesting side-effect to this last kind of fight, the fight for good. When you're not doing it for your own ego, you can win just by convincing others to join your side. If you get enough people to fight for you, you can even win without anyone actually knowing it was you.

For instance, let's say Apple has 60% marketshare on actively-used desktops in five years... will anyone say, "Wow, thank gord Wil Shipley decided to save NeXTstep all those years ago?" No, no they won't, and as much as I think I'm great (which is a *LOT*), even I don't think they should. They should thank Avie Tevanian and Bertrand Serlet and William Parkhurst and Jack Greenfield and Craig Federighi and Ali Ozer and Peter Graffagnino and Mike Paquette and Steve Jobs... well, shit, I could go through my whole address book, but you get the point.

But I still won! That's the beauty. I'll win because I chose a win condition that a lot of other great people thought was worthwhile, so I don't have to personally triumph over everyone to win. I can let those heavy-hitters above do all the hard lifting (why are batters lifting stuff? I don't know) and when they succeed I can say to myself, "Yes! Life goal accomplished! Next!"

Now, I've got an ego, I'm the first (and MOST IMPORTANT) person to admit it. I like getting credit for stuff I've done. I'll tell stories that end, "...and that's how I indirectly invented the World Wide Web by being an intern at Stanford Linear Accelerator in college." But I remind myself, hey, I was fighting because I wanted some greater good, not because I wanted credit. Credit is fun, winning is better.

--

Ok, back to NickNeg. As I said, I've only spoken to him for about thirty minutes. I didn't peer inside his soul, but I think I've got a fair impression of him. I think he's a very smart guy. I think that, like most great men, he's got an enormous ego that is matched by his ability to actually DO stuff. I think he may be one of the few people in America who is not actively being tortured and still hates W more than I do. And I think he's very committed to doing what's right for the world.

So do you think Nicholas Negroponte will feel like he's lost if his OLPC initiative forces Intel and Microsoft to subsidize PCs for children in every developing nation in the world?

I do not.

Oh, sure, I know he's a proud man, and naturally part of him wants the credit for changing the world. And he'll be (validly) pissed that the Classmate is not based open source and that he's not able to prevent Microsoft from basically using this as a chance to infect the rest of the world with its blecherous software...

But deep down in his heart? He's laughing. He wins.

Labels:

49 Comments:

Anonymous Frank 'viperteq' Young said...

And I'm all like, "Abitchsezwhat?," except I didn't actually say that, although I kinda wish I had because I'm guessing it would have been the first and only time anyone ever said that to anyone in his family.

Dude, you had me ROLLING in my chair @ work while reading this. This has got to be the most insightful, yet funny, post that I have read in quite a while. I reallyy dig how you think and I wanted to thank you for making me think about things in a totally different light.

Damn, you win again....

November 02, 2006 5:15 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I will have to agree with you. Anyone that denies their huge ego doesn't deserve to have it. Plus, ego is the driving force behind capitalism. That is why I am proud to say that I have a HUGE ego!

Great Post!

November 02, 2006 6:04 PM

 
Anonymous Jeff Atwood said...

> Of course, I said the only thing I could: "Sheeeee-iiit, negro... ponte."

That's so awesome. Hey, and speaking of your totally hot car, I was driving behind a white Lotus Elise with all-black rims today on 580. It really is hot.

November 02, 2006 6:31 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder what cell phone or pda MR. Being Digital was using. Don't tell me yellowish paper was all he read on... (if so, lie and tell me he had some advanced sonyericsson P990). I guess you use motorolla if you're on the board.

November 02, 2006 8:53 PM

 
Anonymous atma said...

I don't think that Google is better than Microsoft or Apple. I just think that Google has to be better because it operates in a different market.
Google's relationship with it's costumers it's quite different, so it's users are experienced(?) internet users (mostly) that use all the range of services it provides (picassa, image search, code search[!], video google, calendar and such) so it has to keep notice of it's social face much more than Microsoft and Apple.
Most people in Europe as you can imagine use windows. I bet that the percentage that cares about Microsoft's policy in China is less than 5%, it's not the same for Google though. Or at I believe that it's not.

Nice post, cheers.

November 03, 2006 1:23 AM

 
Anonymous corwin said...

Here in Beijing, things are a constant fight for ego, with everybody.

There are no lines in China- if someone is at a grocery store waiting in line, it's evidently OK to just walk in front of them and start addressing the cashier directly.

Never yield to other drivers, in any circumstances. Feel free to miss pedestrians by an inch or less. Feel free to run red lights and then get stuck in the middle of an intersection, blocking others.

I compared it to Chris the other day to playing Grand Theft Auto- when you drive your car around, the other cars are obstacles that can be killed or whatever you like. Driving around Portland, I feel like people are aware that I'm, you know, a living person like them.

(Sorry I missed your shindig, we got into town too late to make it, and had early flights the next morning.)

November 03, 2006 3:45 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your stories are great, but I'm always waiting for you to drop in your opinion of George Bush. Please stop doing so, everyone knows what you think about him and no one cares.

November 03, 2006 8:04 AM

 
Anonymous Alex Payne said...

This made my day. You are hereby nominated for some or another blogging award.

November 03, 2006 8:22 AM

 
Blogger The Nog said...

Rush Limbaugh: "I'll say the most heinous and hypocritical things imaginable in order to get fame or infamy, I don't care which."

You know, a lot of people consider you to be the Rush Limbaugh of Mac developers, Wil.

As for tangible good in Iraq (disregarding the disproved 600,000 Iraqi death claim), maybe you should ask some soldiers some time or crack open the NYT, where you'll see that Saddam was a year away from having a nuke. He killed a million of his own people according to the U.N., but I'm sure they don't count. After all, we've got a mid-term election to win! Don't let them know about that record-low unemployment rate and booming economy thanks to the Bush tax cuts! And especially don't let them know about those terrorist leaders who have endorsed the Democrats and consider an Iraqi pullout to be an Islamic jihadi victory.

No, instead, let's talk about Rush Limbaugh some more for daring to criticize a cloning bill.

November 03, 2006 9:03 AM

 
Anonymous Ross Carter said...

Wil, spot on as always. 'Tis the season to be depressed, however, when we see how few people recognize the difference between the two fights. If you are fighting for ego, you need only tell people that you are actually fighting for good, and then they will fight for your ego, too. I said it's depressing because I don't see much progress in humans overcoming their native gullibility. On the other hand, maybe if every child in the world had a laptop...

November 03, 2006 10:59 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie were the inventors of Unix (not Bill Joy).

November 03, 2006 11:25 AM

 
Blogger Wil Shipley said...

Your stories are great, but I'm always waiting for you to drop in your opinion of George Bush.

In this case I thought it fairly relevant, since Nicholas' brother is as famous as him for working for Republicans. Check him out on Wikipedia.

So, it seems very worthwhile to point out that of the two brothers, one is a very strong Democrat and one is a Republican.

And, at any rate, I've really got to write what I feel, and not what I feel you want to hear. If I don't, this blog will be very boring.

November 03, 2006 11:55 AM

 
Blogger Wil Shipley said...

No, instead, let's talk about Rush Limbaugh some more for daring to criticize a cloning bill.

Wow, what's it like being able to selectively shut your ears? Can you swim deeper than most people?

You know FULL WELL that people are talking about Rush because he's a complete asshole who straight out said Michael J. Fox gave up his career and made a public spectacle of himself to spend full-time faking an illness.

That's beyond the pale. But, no, your assertion is that we're picking on him because he has an opinion?

--

Lots of countries are "a year away" from having nukes, or already have them. North Korea does, and Kim is a fucking loon and a lot more likely to try to strike at us than Saddam, in my opinion.

Lots of peoples are getting slaughtered. Seen Darfur lately? Too bad they don't have oil.

Why is it better if _we_ slaughter Iraqis than if Saddam does? 600,000 vs. 1,000,000? So, if we're there two more years, THEN we'll pass the magic "evil" number and it's ok for anyone to pre-emptively attack us?

-W

November 03, 2006 12:01 PM

 
Blogger Wil Shipley said...

Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie were the inventors of Unix (not Bill Joy).

Bill worked on BSD, which I consider to be "seminal" for the purposes of this story. I admit it's a bit of hyperbole, added partly for humor.

"Inventor" is a wiggly word. Who invented the personal computer? What single leap can you point to and say, "This is when it became personal!"

November 03, 2006 12:04 PM

 
Blogger Wil Shipley said...

Also, to everyone who posts positive feedback: Thank you.

I'm sorry I only respond to criticism here; I realized today that I'm basically encouraging people to insult me, since it's the only time I provide any kind of positive reinforcement.

At any rate, it means a lot to me when people laugh or are touched or what-have-you after reading my stuff. I don't want the comments section to turn into me saying, "thank you, thank you, thank you" a zillion times, because it seems REALLY disingenuous, but believe me, it affects me.

November 03, 2006 3:29 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will, you say you admire Jobs that he publicly shares your liberal ideals. How neat.

And if Jobs was pro-Republican, would you be so happy with him? No, of course not. You'd deride him just as you attack anyone who doesn't share your fashionable, easy, geek liberalism.

I am not a fan of the Republicans, but I'm also not a fan of people who use politics to advance their software businesses, whether it's Jobs, Gates or... you.

Stick to what you know.

November 03, 2006 3:30 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rock on.

November 03, 2006 4:43 PM

 
Anonymous Benji XVI said...

Yes Wil, stick to what you know. Write us lists and lists of facts! That's what a blog's for, you know.

Love the post as per usual. Your politics are uncommmonly well-informed and I threaten with voodoo all those who try for their OWN political alliance to discourage you from talking about it.

Thanks :D

November 03, 2006 4:44 PM

 
Blogger Wil Shipley said...

And if Jobs was pro-Republican, would you be so happy with him? No, of course not. You'd deride him just as you attack anyone who doesn't share your fashionable, easy, geek liberalism.

I am not a fan of the Republicans, but I'm also not a fan of people who use politics to advance their software businesses, whether it's Jobs, Gates or... you.

Stick to what you know.


What? What the hell? Where did you learn to argue?

Why would I be ashamed of not agreeing with Jobs' politics if he were a Republican? Uh, no, duh. Because I obviously hate Republicans. I'm not sure what memo you didn't get. I. Hate. Republicans.

You think I'm some kind of Steve Jobs fanboy, I guess, and that I'd be rocked if my hero betrayed me. Look, genius, I've spoken with Steve, I've done deals with Steve. I think he's absolutely a genius, charismatic, enormously talented in many fields, and kind of a dick. There, I said it -- he can be a dick.

But, hey, while I'm using this brush, lots of people think I'm a dick. It's kind of a symptom of trying to change the world that you're going to brush people the wrong way a lot of the time.

But I certainly know better than to work for him, for example.

--

You should maybe stick to what YOU know. You think my liberalism is something put on so I can sell software?

Let's see: (a) you have no idea how long I've been a liberal, (b) you have no idea how strongly I've worked for liberal causes in private, (c) you actually have no way to measure if I'm a "real" liberal or a "fashionable" one, and (d) you have no idea if my liberal ideas help or hurt my software sales or have any effect at all.

So, you're totally talking out your ass, and telling me to stick to what I know.

Why is it that so many people who disagree with me use this "stick to software" argument? Are you saying that only professional politicians should discuss politics? This is a very, very dangerous thing to say. Seriously, never say this to anyone. It hurts America.

WE NEED AN INVOLVED CITIZENRY. We NEED to be involved. We need to discuss the issues that affect ALL of us. We need to call our politicians on the carpet, not give them a free pass and say, "Well, I trust that everything will work out. They are dealing with issues that are too big for MY tiny wittle bwain!"

-W

November 03, 2006 6:03 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As for tangible good in Iraq (disregarding the disproved 600,000 Iraqi death claim), maybe you should ask some soldiers some time or crack open the NYT, where you'll see that Saddam was a year away from having a nuke."

Uh, no. Can you read?
This was a year before the GULF war, as in the 1980's to early 1990.

After the GULF war, he had no capabilities.

Jeez.

And people, this is WIl's blog (duh), and let him blog his feelings.
I want more posts.

November 03, 2006 8:45 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Umm, nobody is stopping from Will from sharing his views. It is his blog after all...

He seems to have absolutely no trouble sharing his views.

So let's leave out the claims of oppression, ok? Will is putting his (fashionable) political views out, like any number of other bloggers. The cynical part is that Will is a software developer, using a blog ostensibly about software to promote his political views.

If his readers (and customers) were as cynical about this as Will is cynical about anyone who disagrees with him, then his customers would see this for what it is: commerical rabble rousing.

November 03, 2006 8:59 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So let's leave out the claims of oppression, ok?"

Dude, I was responding to posts requesting Wil stop the poli posts.
lease stop doing so, everyone knows what you think about him and no one cares.
Stick to what you know
Jeez. the commenters are right above you.

Read much?

And pointedly telling the commenter that the NY Times(and subsequent articles) were referring to husinsane's nucular plans were in late 80's early 90's not the year prior to operation Iraqi freedom.

November 03, 2006 10:20 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wil,

I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to entertain/inform all of us who choose to read your blog. Just think, you could be making money instead!

Don't listen to the people who think that a software developer should only blog about software. You're a human being, too. And a concerned citizen--which is more than I can say about some people. I myself am a moderate. Ergo I don't always agree with your politics. Nevertheless, I think what you're doing here is really important. Debate is the lifeblood of democracy!

Allen

November 03, 2006 10:51 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A cynics point of view
It is all useless. olpc is just a ego thing. poverty amplifies poverty just as wealth amplifies wealth. the divide is only getting bigger. The only school of thought that ever was brave enough to face this was socialism but that is now so totally out of fashion and so uncool. Every other scheme to combat poverty that does not face those facts is just going to fail or is just for the ego of the good doers.

November 04, 2006 4:17 AM

 
Blogger Wil Shipley said...

Seriously, a cynical socialist? Damn, that's like, uh, a generous Republican. Ba-dump-crash!

Socialism is a huge failure because it simply doesn't take human nature into account. I've never heard one description of it that doesn't start, "Ok, if everyone were perfect and nice, here's how society would work..." Yes, well, given those preconditions, pretty much any model of society would work. That's also the basis for Republicanism: "Well, if everyone would just give lots of money to their local church, and all the poor people would just worship the correct God, then poverty wouldn't be a problem! Why should we have the government interfere with something that churches can do so much more effectively?"

I'm not worried about everyone being equal. Some people should have more -- they are smarter, they work harder. What we should never forget is that nobody, NOBODY, anywhere in the world should starve, or be tortured, or grow up without an education and sanitation and shelter. At least, no one should as long as we're driving luxury cars and eating Cheetos.

Seriously, I'm fine if you have a plasma TV and I'm stuck with a lousy 13" CRT. That is Not A Serious Problem on the scale of actual problems people suffer in this world.

But it disgusts me that we let hundreds of thousands of people die elsewhere while we drive fucking Hummers and wage a stupid war that costs us trillions. We have children in Africa getting kidnapped and forced into a huge gang of warrior/criminals and we do NOTHING, but we'll spend trillions to supposedly block Saddam from, uh, wait, what was our excuse again?

-Wil

November 04, 2006 4:52 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Socialism is a huge failure because it simply doesn't take human nature into account." you are right that is why I said that socialism is uncool and I am not a socialist. But the simple economic fact that Marx observed remains true, money make more money and poverty kills your chances at good schools at healthy food and healthcare and safety and it is an inescapable trap that is why I am cynical. A little thought for everybody who calls socialism a failure compare the child mortality (a important indicator of poverty ) of Cuba with that of the U.S ;-)

November 04, 2006 10:18 AM

 
Anonymous Benji XVI said...

A little thought for everybody who calls socialism a failure compare the child mortality (a important indicator of poverty ) of Cuba with that of the U.S ;-)

Very true. So the problem with socialism is that it needs to be imposed benevolently on the people, and then it is very liable to be destroyed by corruption. Unworkable? Castro says no, honestly I'm not sure it's been properly tried outside of Cuba so it might just be "still to early to say".

November 04, 2006 3:33 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

> to drop in your opinion of George Bush. Please stop
>doing so, everyone knows what you think about him
>and no one cares.

I care. it's HIS blog

about sadam and bush and whatever : think about consequences, think about life of people. is it better ? do you think USA is right now ? do you think UK and others did pay the price ?

---
OLPC : it's the same with mozilla or linux. it's not so important if "linux" or "mozilla" win. the goal was to improve computing or web and FORCE MICROSOFT TO MOVE ! and IT moved ! youhou .

another exemple : and you cannot fathom how Gnu project helped/forced many many developers tools and compilers to drastically drop their price. it was insane , years before, to imagine the price of a C compiler.

it was good than the gnu project appeared. really that good and helped to spread more computing stuff to more people and so to create a bigger market and opportunities.

it's important to understand that. it's why often, a not so successful product in market share DID change the world.

November 04, 2006 6:37 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>Socialism is a huge failure because it simply doesn't
>take human nature into account. I've never heard
>one description of it that doesn't start, "Ok, if
>everyone were perfect and nice, here's how society
>would work..."

americans, ho amercans, you are so funny, well some are funny, others americans are Really funny, others are artists, writers, scientist genius and so on

but sometimes, there are some just plain funny americans...

socialism. ho my.. one day you will forgot the whole Russia and your schwarzenegger-stallone movie with the big red-guy

you know what ? France or Germany for example are mostly "socialist". even "right"-wing party are a lot of more "leftish" than your republican party

we have unions, social care , laws againts some financial practices and so one
in fact, it's mostly the same in USA. more "left" in Europa. more social helps and less emphasize of the "cowboy" attitude of the Individual ruling the world

and you know what ? it works. yes it works
company are working
I'm living in France, and I have a big mac, with a big 30" display, a fridge and ho yeah ! even a house !
how is it possible ? france is not the cheese-country king of mad socialist ?
and no, I'm not an exquisite rich person, just a typical system administrator for an _public_ university (not many money ,ho no... )

but people leads a decent life. as in Italia, Spain and so on.

Spain is actually under a "socialist" government, and now they never did say "if would be nice if people was perfect", and no they do not forbid free enterprise, neither the press

in France, we have a truly wannabe economical-right believing in the godness of Capitalism politician (Alain Madelin is his name) and if you listen it, yeah the world would be a paradise of smart, generous individual under a totally free market, free rules and working in a capitalist world to improve rentabiliy, productivity and quality of life.. but people are not perfect and nice, some are cheating, stealing money, create monopolies, disrupt the market

and so TRUE capitalism is a MYTH

a myth so dangerous, dangerous AS TRUE communism than NOONE do that. Even USA or Japan or who you want DO NOT DO TRUE capitalism.

you have regulations, financial justice, antitrust laws, you are members of the WTO (wwW.wto.org) which regules commercials practices of the his members

so please people, stop to be so traumatized by socialism, capitalism and I suppose the whole communism hysteria.

it's funny in movie with big guns and bad red guy but in real life.. it's just childlish.

and I don"t care if you use "socialism" word for you fantasm or whatever little third mad political parties you have in your country.

Democrat are far to be at the left as the PCF (French communist party) and even if we got _one_ minister of the PCF for a few years (for transports), NO it was not the end of individual properties, not the end of rich man, not the end of BIG companies (TF1-Bouygue, rhone-poulainc, EADS, Total and so on)
and noooone burned my house.

for the moment, France is governed by UMP, a right wing-capitalist party, you could say it's a little as the democrat party, it wants to be more authoritarian, thought. and you know what ? they did not removed social helps,did not give me a lot of money and easy way to create enterprise because I'm beautiful and noone told to fuck up and go create my own enterprise because it's the triumph of capitalism, but yeah they are preparing to privatize some public services (electricity, for example), they transformed the public postal-bank into a real bank and others things so they do some changes.


socialism in Europe is NOT Soviet-totalitarism-mad-communism believing in E.T, Bigfoot and "If everyone was perfect, little bird will sing every morning" !
and we ARE living in our countries, well, and ho! we even got cars and videogames, ho my... ! ho the irony ! you speak of a Failure... we are the same as you. only some little differences in the economical balances and regulations. not so big.


so be calm, don't panic, the world is not so freaky, no little socialist monster will eat you and no it's not a "failure". a failure would be a disaster as Africa, Iraq, north korea, Ex-Yugoslavia and the madness was totalitarism Russia.

everything is good. don't panic

November 04, 2006 7:06 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I will knock Negroponte for turning down Steve's offer to use OSX for free, just because Apple won't give away all their source code. He let the "free software" dogma keep him from making the machine as good as it could have been.

Nevertheless, his initiative will get a lot of machines into the hands of kids who wouldn't get them otherwise, which is a Good Thing. Pity that it couldn't have been an Even Better Thing.

-jcr

November 04, 2006 11:34 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW, to the poster above, you really don't want to put Cuba up as an example if you want to promote socialism. They're an economic basket case ever since the Russians quit subsidising them by paying inflated prices for sugar, and they weren't doing too well before that, either.

When's the last time you heard of anyone trying to flee *to* Cuba? If you think the Cubans in Miami had a party when Castro went to the hospital, wait till you see the Cubans in Havana celebrating the end of his regime. They'll make the toppling of the Berlin wall look like a funeral.

-jcr

November 04, 2006 11:39 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"After the GULF war, he had no capabilities."

Too bad for him that he tried to bluff. If he hadn't decided to jerk the weapons inspectors around, he might still be feeding his enemies into industrial shredders today.

I'm looking forward to his imminent demise.

-jcr

November 04, 2006 11:45 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@jcr

I am not promoting cuba or socialism I do not want to live there I am simply objectively observing a fact. Also to counter example I seem to remember some parties in Harlem when Castro and later Caves visited the U.N so the U.S is also failing and a terrible place to live for some people.

November 05, 2006 7:40 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@jcr

I just want to show you that it is not as black and white as the U.S propaganda machine makes it out. You also give the example of the DDR (east germany) A lot of them still have mixed feelings and the comunist party that came from east germany still gets a lot of votes. but on the other hand even being a left winger I personally have my doubts even at the Western Europe social democrats A very protective social security system is a disatvantage for starters that is why you see the riots in France the siting middle-age white person is so well protected that it is difficult for a young nord african to get a chance.

November 05, 2006 8:02 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They'll make the toppling of the Berlin wall look like a funeral.
I very much doubt that because the hatred of the U.S in the rest of America is very big Castro is still a lot better than all the U.S suported fashist regiems of the resent past. The thing is that there as much "refugies" from capitalist Haity or Mexico" The only differece is that they are not so welcome!

November 05, 2006 8:17 AM

 
Anonymous Benji XVI said...

Castro is still a lot better than all the U.S suported fashist regiems of the resent past

Your spelling is atrocious but this is a really very good point. Personally when I think about it I think americans really don't know what "left" is. The democratic party aren't really left. Most democrats seem to believe in the Central Dogma of the free market and taxes will never come high enough to enable the sort of left-wing economy that could enjoy the success we see in certain parts of Europe, notably Scandinavia, France and Germany.

November 05, 2006 10:00 AM

 
Anonymous Muhammad Haggag said...

This is the first time I read a post of yours. And actually, I didn't even know who you are prior to reading this.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I think you're a great guy. Thanks

November 05, 2006 3:36 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

did anyone ever question whether this OLPC is a good idea? - excuse me being cynical but sounds like an ego trip and a chance to spread western culture to me. How can we really help the disadvantaged?

November 06, 2006 6:24 AM

 
Blogger Wil Shipley said...

...sounds like an ego trip and a chance to spread western culture to me...

You think the entire OLPC initiative is a conspiracy just to expose *you* to Western culture? Damn, that's a lot of effort just to corrupt one dude.

And people say *I* am egotistical.

-W

November 06, 2006 6:52 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

:-) err "sounds to me" might be a bit clearer. Is that a split infitive? But Wil, I find you're egotism endearing, we love you for who you are. have a nice day :-)

November 06, 2006 8:55 AM

 
Anonymous Mike Lee said...

Wil, your NickNeg story is funny as hell. Especially since I was sitting a few rows back on the same plane heading to TED too! I just chatted with him in the terminal prior to the flight, and since the company where I work sponsors the lab, he made the time to chat with us. The chat was fruitful since he stopped in to visit our offices in Washington, D.C. the following Tuesday.

Here's a moblog post of Nick and boarding the prop flight.

November 07, 2006 8:02 PM

 
Anonymous Mark Stultz said...

Wil, stop encouraging people to argue with you! We all want our Delicious Library 2.0 :)

November 07, 2006 9:57 PM

 
Anonymous JB said...

"I'm sorry I only respond to criticism here; I realized today that I'm basically encouraging people to insult me, since it's the only time I provide any kind of positive reinforcement."

Great write up Wil, this one had me laughing out loud a few times...oh yeah, you bastard! ;-)

November 08, 2006 9:29 AM

 
Blogger Carlos said...

Interesting and funny.

My point of view however is that person or a company can care about money, ego, AND doing good all at the same time. These things are not exclusive. Actually most often than not, all these things are very compatible and and form a powerful synergy. To care about you is not a bad thing. That drives us to be better and better. Money is the tool used to get things done, it represents the power to do what you want (good or bad) and your reward. Doing good is rewarding spiritually and more often than not, it is also how you make money.

November 09, 2006 5:50 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(There are certainly things I admire about Apple, like Steve Jobs' open support for Democratic candidates and ideals, as opposed to Microsoft's policy of giving piles of money to both sides so that whoever ends up in power is beholden to them.)

Hmmm. Giving money to political parties or candidates ... that's so they can spend it on election campaigns, isn't it? Elections, where the people get to choose? So if Microsoft give to a candidate who subsequently gets elected, they could say "you owe use, because we gave ..." and the winner would say "go away you foolish people who gave also to `for loser in $losers ; do echo -n $loser ; done`"

But if The Chief Turtleneck gives to his preferred candidate only -- this is surely because The Steve wants that one elected, and that candidate will have more money to spend on campaigning, and to hell with what other people who can donate less think.

In an imperfect electoral system where it is necessary to have funds to fight an election campaign, in giving to many candidates across party divisions, presumably Microsoft is trying to make it easier for all candidates to campaign; surely, when one has an enormous wad of lettuce to give away in political donations, this is more socially responsible than giving it to just one

Oh look, I've just defended Microsoft.
Oh look, here comes Nurse Ratched with my medication.

November 10, 2006 10:02 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(There are certainly things I admire about Apple, like Steve Jobs' open support for Democratic candidates and ideals, as opposed to Microsoft's policy of giving piles of money to both sides so that whoever ends up in power is beholden to them.)

Hmmm. Giving money to political parties or candidates ... that's so they can spend it on election campaigns, isn't it? Elections, where the people get to choose? So if Microsoft give to a candidate who subsequently gets elected, Microsoft could say "you owe us, because we gave ..." and the winner would say "go away you foolish people who gave also to `for loser in $losers ; do echo -n $loser ; done`"

But if The Chief Turtleneck gives to his preferred candidate only -- this is surely because The Steve wants that one elected, and that candidate will have more money to spend on campaigning, and to hell with what other people who can donate less think.

In an imperfect electoral system where it is necessary to have funds to fight an election campaign, in giving to many candidates across party divisions, presumably Microsoft is trying to make it easier for all candidates to campaign; surely, when one has an enormous wad of lettuce to give away in political donations, this is more socially responsible than giving it to just one.

Oh look, I've just defended Microsoft. Here comes Nurse Ratched with my medication.

November 10, 2006 10:05 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should head over to the MacRumors political discussion. You would fit right in :)

http://forums.macrumors.com/forumdisplay.php?f=47

November 11, 2006 4:23 AM

 
Anonymous brady said...

Today's NYTimes has a Negroponte update. Sounds like he doesn't know the limit of what he's got (which means he might be on to something big).

November 30, 2006 8:50 PM

 
Anonymous rcc said...

I`d hate it, for not being able to read your blogposts anymore in that supossedly case, but maybe you should join the politics :).
Really good blogging.

December 04, 2006 5:35 AM

 

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