Conversations

Digerati - Chapter 14

[10.1.96]

Chapter 14

THE JUDGE

David R. Johnson  

THE IDEALIST (Denise Caruso): David was the voice of reason when I was on the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation‹sometimes too reasonable, in fact, when what was required was to be uncompromising. But one of the most memorable experiences I had during my time on the board was watching and listening while David and John Gilmore debated the issue of absolute anonymity on the Internet. Begrudgingly, they came to an agreement they both could live with. I learned a ton‹not just about anonymity, but about how compromise can sometimes be the best solution for everyone.

David R. Johnson serves as chairman of Counsel Connect, the online meeting place for the legal profession, and is codirector of the Cyberspace Law Institute. 


Digerati - Chapter 13

[10.1.96]

Chapter 13

W. DANIEL HILLIS

The Genius

THE THINKER (Doug Carlston): Danny is one of the great spirits of the computer industry. He's the one fellow every techie I know would give his right arm to work for. Although his last company, Thinking Machines, didn't survive, Danny is the sort of guy to place your bets on.

Danny Hillis is vice president of research and development at the Walt Disney Company and a Disney Fellow. He was cofounder and chief scientist of Thinking Machines Corporation.


Digerati - Chapter 12

[10.1.96]

Chapter 12

THE DEFENDER

Mike Godwin

THE JUDGE (David R. Johnson): Mike is a tenacious defender of First Amendment rights, and he knows the constitutional issues involved better than almost anybody. His online discussion style is such that everybody who tangles with him is careful before they dive in. He takes every aspect of every sentence that somebody has written and provides the refutation in detail.

Mike Godwin, an attorney, is counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the San Francisco-based cyber-liberties organization.


Digerati - Chapter 11

[10.1.96]

Chapter 11

THE CONSERVATIVE

David Gelernter

THE SKEPTIC (Cliff Stoll): There are lots of clever computer scientists; David Gelernter is one of the few who is wise. He understands the need to interact with people rather than computers. He understands the limitations of computer science. He speaks to the problems of technologists, namely, how come there are so few women online. He addresses serious questions‹why there is so little useful stuff on the Net. He realizes that there is much more to context and content than merely bits of information here and hypertext jumps over there. He is a historian, social commentator, and sage with a snicker. In Mirror Worlds, Gelernter predicted the power of computer models. His book on the 1939 World's Fair is a joy, showing how we've gained the future but lost our way. Despite, or because, of his deep experience in computing, he questions the maniacal adoption of computers and hypertext in schools and society.

David Gelernter, a Yale University computer scientist, is the author of Mirror Worlds (1991), The Muse in the Machine (1994), and 1939: The Lost World of the Fair (1995).


Digerati - Chapter 10

[10.1.96]

Chapter 10

THE SOFTWARE DEVELOPER

Bill Gates

THE SAINT (Kevin Kelly): Gates is incredibly sharp. He's simply fantastic with numbers and things stored in his head. It's like he has the ultimate RAM in his brain. That's his inner nerd. But I was surprised by how much I liked him as a person, given how much I disliked DOS. Although he is extremely cagey‹he is always playing a game with how much he says or doesn't say because he is involved in so many embryonic deals‹he is also witty and accessible. He's curious about things. He likes to think big and wide‹he looks globally, in long terms, and across many disciplines. It would be impossible to be bored around him. Most importantly, he "gets it." He groks the current reality. I found he has a razor sharp intuition of exactly how things are. He may have to fudge what he says because he represents a large corporation, but you can tell that he grasps what's really happening underneath, even at a cultural level. But the thing that most impressed me about Gates was his ritual of taking a couple weeks off every semester to read and think. I can't imagine anything more important to do in a world accelerating as fast as the one we are traveling in is.

Bill Gates is CEO of Microsoft Corporation and author of The Road Ahead (1995).


Digerati - Chapter 9

[10.1.96]

Chapter 9

THE PATTERN-RECOGNIZER

Esther Dyson

THE COYOTE (John Perry Barlow): Esther is the smartest woman I know. She would rather have me say she is one of the five smartest humans I know, which I could also say. But I'll stick with calling her the smartest woman I know because there is something about the combination of that kind of intelligence and femininity which is still too rare in the computer field. There is a quality to her insight that is not masculine and is incredibly powerful as a result.

Esther Dyson is president of EDventure Holdings and editor of Release 1.0. Her PC Forum conference is an annual industry event.


Digerati - Chapter 8

[10.1.96]

Chapter 8

THE GADFLY

John C. Dvorak  

THE SCRIBE (John Markoff): John C. Dvorak is definitely an industry gadfly, but he's worked at being one. Everything with John is incredibly calculated. If you talk to John much you'll realize that he thinks about things like cross-marketing himself. What an absolutely bizarre concept. But he's really the funniest person in the personal computer industry, he's one of the most irreverent, and he doesn't tolerate all the bullshit that goes down, which is my favorite quality about him. He doesn't buy into this vision shit and he's a useful antidote to the mass delirium that goes on around technology.

John C. Dvorak is a columnist for PC Magazine, PC/Computing, and Boardwatch; the host of Real Computing, a radio program broadcast on one hundred public stations; and the software reviewer for C-Net Central, a nationwide cable TV show.


Digerati - Chapter 7

[10.1.96]

Chapter 7

THE STATESMAN

Steve Case

THE COMPETITOR (Scott McNealy): AOL has the big challenge we all have: it's right in the middle of the vortex of the change. One of the things it has been able to do is adapt and deal with the new and different competitive threats and regulatory environments and technology changes driving the business. This is one business where you want to spend very little time in internal strategizing and a ton of time with your head outside the window, or on an airplane, flying around, trying to figure out what's really going on. Technology in AOL's space is moving way faster than it does in the hardware space or the operating system space or the product space. Steve Case has done a good job of keeping his head in an environment that is swirling like crazy.

Steve Case is the founder and CEO of America Online.


Digerati - Chapter 6

[10.1.96]

Chapter 6

THE IDEALIST

Denise Caruso  

THE PATTERN-RECOGNIZER (Esther Dyson): Denise is one of the most clear-minded people I know, both in understanding industry dynamics and in understanding people's motivations. But she can be critical of people who aren't as noble-minded as she is.

Denise Caruso runs Spotlight, an annual conference for interactive media industry executives. Her column, "Digital Commerce," appears in The New York Times.


Digerati - Chapter 5

[10.1.96]

Chapter 5

THE THINKER

Doug Carlston

THE IDEALIST (Denise Caruso): Doug Carlston does good things, and does them well, and people like them. He doesn't have to be a jerk about it‹it's kind of amazing. He's like that Rodin sculpture. You can feel him thinking.

Doug Carlston cofounded Brøderbund Software after starting a career as an attorney. Today he is its chairman and CEO. 
 


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