Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Waiting for 2010 #62: Physics

Trying to figure out what to write/rant/hyperbole (if that third one is even a verb) today, I happpened upon this CNET article. Apparently Bill Gates has spent some of his own money to acquire the rights to some interesting physics lectures by Dr. Richard Feynman and creating Project Tuva. In an interview highlighted in the aforementioned article, Gates was pretty low key and c'est la vie when it came to the topic of Google Chrome OS. That's good for Gates. While Microsoft has never been able to shake its evil reputation, due to its massive proliferation, Gates has gone from a nerdy dude who ran an evil corp. to a nerdy dude who's trying to help the world, at least in public perception.

The topic of public perception brings into question of why Steve Ballmer was Gates' chosen successor at the helm. Gates is nerdy dude; Ballmer is just angry. Microsoft was already the evil empire with nerdy, low-key Gates in charge last century. Being an ever-crumbling empire with an angry dude as captain doesn't really help, especially when it comes to consumer perception and them relating product with persona.

By contrast, Apple's Steve Jobs is a fair balance of nerdy and angry. Then again, if Apple wants to soften its stereotype of its most dedicated users being wound-up fanboys (tech blog comments are as troll/flame-filled as political ones), they would need to go full-nerd (albeit low-key nerdy) and let co-founder Steve "Woz" Wozniak be the spokesperson. But that ain't gonna happen anytime soon. Cutthroat competition needs angry guys, I suppose. Case in point: The Palm Pre can no longer sync with Apple iTunes. (If Palm makes a big stink out of this, there might be murmurs of anti-trust investigations in the small electronics [iPod, iPhone] realm that could potentially snowball in the personal computer [i.e., Mac] realm, and where OS X+ can be installed. And then they'll get Woz to do the keynote addresses!)

With all this geeky intrigue afoot, when will Google lose its reputation of "don't be evil"? Has it already lost this reputation? If Google has lost its not-evil status, and is presumably on its way to being the next evil empire, do we care? I still like Google's Blogger and Google's YouTube. I love Google's Gmail, and the Google Voice addition is fantastic! (I'm sorry to make those awaiting invites jealous.)

In any case, the mantra of any corporation - tech or otherwise - shouldn't be a negative ("don't be evil") but a positive: "Be good." And good doesn't have to be defined in opposition to evil (but a little philanthropy would be nice). As long as it is good is in opposition to crap - consumers, employees, and shareholders will all be happy.

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