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Epiphanies happen

August 15th, 2004 · 2 Comments

Last week I was driving through a double rainbow, heading south on I-5, when something happened to me.

First I must confess that when I took my turn at the wheel and Ted took out his Powerbook to play MP3s, I groaned. Is this what life with a geek is like? I wondered to myself. It was clear that time on the road to Ted meant time with IT Conversations.

But as I was driving down the interstate, beneath the rainbow colors, I found myself focussing my attention on Ray Ozzie’s talk at this year’s Supernova

First as the creator of Notes and now as CEO of Groove Networks, Ray has been trying to change work through communications tools for 20 years. In this presentation recorded at Supernova 2004, Ray discusses recent experience using Groove in a truly distributed enviornment: support of humanitarian operations in Iraq. Think of it: There’s no IT department, no Xerox machines, everything must be secure, and oh yeah…people may be shooting at you. The inside-the-beltway folks are thinking centralization: servers, but they’re not addressing the social-software realities of how people work and how they form ad-hoc relationships.

Later in the drive, another IT Conversation between Valdis Krebs and John Robb on analyzing terrorist networks also fascinated me.

Is this what technology is about? I asked Ted. Is this what it can do? Then why, when I took computer science in college, did the instructors have us write programs that played tennis games? Why didn’t anyone show me – show all the students – how technology can change the way the world works?

Reading Robert Scoble’s blog today, to see what I had missed at his BBQ while driving on our road trip, I found his link to an article in US News & World Report titled: A few good women Tech firms want more female computer whizzes .

According to the book Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing by Jane Margolis and Allan Fisher, girls–unlike boys–want jobs they believe can make a difference in society. But they don’t view high tech as a key to that idealistic path. “They think it’s what you do if you want to develop games or become a hacker,” says Sterling. “They just don’t feel it’s relevant to helping solve the problems of the world.”

What I heard on those IT Conversations Ted played in our van were discussions on using technology to help solve the problems of the world. I think it was the first time I had heard computers discussed with such applications and in a way I could comprehend. I was riveted, gripped, hooked. It was as if something in those recordings had taken hold of something inside me. Do you have any more? I asked my husband who was happy to share his MP3s with me…

Just as I was amazed by the double rainbow, and as I watched the curve of the colored arcs change in direction as I drove through it that day, also my perspective on computing changed in a way that seems both mystical and magical and yet rational and intellectual.

I’m reminded of C.S. Lewis’ story where the wardrobe opens into another world the children can enter. Driving on I-5, listening to Ray Ozzie and John Robb, I feel I saw a door I can open. Something happened to me. I’m not sure what happens next or how I take the step to open the door. But I know I want to go through it.

Tags: geek

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 philippe boucher // Aug 17, 2004 at 1:43 pm

    Hello Julie! i was really interested by the it conversations: where blog meets audio.
    Since Voice of bainbridge already has audio i am wondering about having a blog for VoB.
    Any advice about creating one?
    Thank you in advance

  • 2 Ted Leung on the air // Aug 17, 2004 at 11:28 pm

    A different kind of IT Conversation…

    As Julie’s commentary on IT Conversations shows, I seem to be doing a bad job of explaining why computing is an exciting field to be in: What I heard on those IT Conversations Ted played in our van were discussions on using technology to help solve t