Category: Technology

Invent

Don’t aspire to be an entrepreneur. Aspire to be an inventor.

Entrepreneurship is about getting your invention realized. It’s worthwhile, it’s deeply engaging, and if it works, it can be very rewarding. Maybe even if it doesn’t. But entrepreneurship is not an end, it’s a means to an end. It has to be about something, and the thing it’s about is the invention. Getting the invention realized, bringing something new into the world, that should be what motivates you.

A scene in the movie “Million Dollar Arm” is a good insight into the process of invention. The Jon Hamm character, an entrepreneur at the end of his seed money and staring failure in the face, is sitting in the dark, channel surfing between a cricket match and “Britain’s Got Talent.” It’s 2009 and Susan Boyle is making her now-famous appearance singing “I Dreamed a Dream” and blowing away the judges. Click. Cricket. Click. Singer. We watch as Hamm’s character finds a connection between the singer, the cricket match, and his own problem.

He doesn’t say anything, so you are left to puzzle over what exactly it is that he’s seeing. The movie lets you see him making the connection, so emotionally you believe it, but it’s clearly a connection that you wouldn’t have made. The scene nicely captures this phenomenon of seeing a connection that nobody else sees, that nobody else would ever see in exactly the way you do. And then acting on it.

That’s invention.

Fire in the Valley News

Fire in the Valley, the seminal history of the personal computer and the ragtag band of revolutionaries who created it, is available again, now in a third edition that brings it up to the Snowden era. Paul Freiberger and I first wrote Fire back in 1984 when we were rubbing elbows with these crazies every day as journalists covering the birth of this strange and exciting new phenomenon. The third edition is now available in a beta version from the Pragmatic Programmers, and the official release is imminent.

You can find out more about the book at the Prags site, and you might also want to take a look at the book’s Facebook page, where we’ll be posting historical tidbits, news about the book and our appearances, and other goodies. And you can follow us on Twitter, too, where we promise to have something interesting to say.

The book will also soon have its own Web page, where we’ll share even more goodies. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to find out when and where that will happen.

The White House Geek

Bloomburg News is reporting that Megan Smith is the top candidate for the job of US CTO. That would be Chief Technology Officer of the United States, a job that didn’t exist until recently and that is likely to become increasingly important. Smith, recently a VP at Google’s X lab, seems well qualified for the job of geek in residence at the White House.