Spence Green

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I work at Lilt. In addition to computers and languages, my interests include travel, running, and scuba diving. more...

Archive for the ‘Tech Trends’ Category

Weird, but Interesting

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‘The future is here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.’ -William Gibson

Non-technical people typically cannot hold a technical audience. But Tim O’Reilly’s talk on November 20th was not typical. Entitled ‘Watching the Alpha Geeks’, O’Reilly explained the ‘secret sauce’ that has accounted for his company’s singular success in the computer publishing industry: regarding hackers, and their interests, as the vanguard of technology. O’Reilly follows ‘Alpha Geeks’, or persons so comfortable with technology that vendors cannot constrain them. Through a series of examples–most notably the ‘Open Source’ movement–O’Reilly showed how trends in the alpha community ultimately shaped mainstream behavior. In the late 90’s, for example, many of the key figures in the OSS world such as Larry Wall, Eric Raymond, Linus Torvalds did not know each other. A 1998 O’Reilly Media conference organized to facilitate introductions, and give the trend a name, marked the inconspicuous start of what has by now spread to every corner of the software world. This, conveniently, is O’Reilly’s Big Hairy Audacious Goal (see Good to Great): ‘Change the world through the spread of knowledge.’
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Written by Spence

December 29th, 2008 at 11:54 am

Posted in Tech Trends

Guido, Google, and App Engine

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The internet’s most underappreciated feature is its ability to connect fringe players with Hollywood-sized audiences. This is particularly true in the software world. Among hackers, the names Linus, Richard, Larry, Eric, Tim, and Guido have just the same ring as Madonna or Bono. At the same time, the internet superstars seem somehow more accessible, possibly because they drive cars and work for companies: they are not seen in the media. This preconception did nothing to stifle my surprise upon entering a small lecture room and finding that same Guido hunched over a Macbook. I instinctively surveyed the aisles, looking for handlers and bodyguards. None could be found. This was just a product pitch, after all, not an appearance at Radio City. At the end of the talk, Guido even cast off his own cloak, excusing himself to take his child to a sporting event. The internet, it seemed, had not stripped him of his humanity.
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Written by Spence

November 12th, 2008 at 10:09 pm

Posted in Tech Trends

A New Take on Renewables

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“Everything that you’ve heard about renewable energy is wrong.” So began Vinod Khosla’s 22 October talk at Stanford on clean enterprise. He was quick to raise a disclaimer about his position, revealing one of his key principles to be that “anything out of the ordinary that you want to do will make others skeptical.” Quoting Stephen Kaggwa, he encouraged the audience of aspirant entrepreneurs to “Try and fail, but don’t fail to try.” The approach worked once for Khosla: in the early 80s he bet, and won, on the idea that the desktop could be a viable power computing workstation. Thirty years later, the founder of Sun Microsystems believes that he has found the next honeypot, and unlike some of the environmental activists that garner only incidental respect from him, he has staked a vast portion of his personal fortune on the notion that renewable energy will become a reality in 10 years time.
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Written by Spence

November 5th, 2008 at 12:42 am

Posted in Tech Trends