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BROCKMAN: When we last talked, you were in charge of Microsoft's online stuff. Are you out of that now?

MYHRVOLD: Well, I'm Chief Technology Officer for the company, and that includes all of our efforts including online stuff and other things. It's more like I took on additional work.

BROCKMAN: What does the Internet mean to you now?

MYHRVOLD: The most interesting aspect of the Internet is none of the technology features; it's putting people in communication with one another, very broadly. Whether that's through Web sites that allow people to publish to a large audience with amazing efficiency and lower cost per unit people that you communicate with; or it's email or Chat or other means to put people in more direct two-way communication. The strength of the Internet is with what people will do with that communication capability. There's cool parts of the underlying technology that send things around. But people are too obsessive about the technology and not obsessive enough about what people are going to do with it. People have focussed enormously on browsers and the browser world, but the browser is only as useful as the stuff you're looking at with it. Sure, it's a nice thing, and for us software guys that want to get down to the guts of it there's a variety of strengths and weaknesses and we can be plenty fascinated. But in terms of people, what matters is the information they can do. You see that in the enormous excitement about Java, which I'm something of a curmudgeon about. In general, in computer science for as long as there's been computer science, there have been trends where people say "I have a new programming language which will set us all free". Programming languages ultimately solve very little. Programming languages allow people to express their ideas as software perhaps a little bit easier. But the really interesting thing is the programs! So you have to say the interesting thing about Java will be programs people create in Java. Now will there be programs they create in Java they couldn't have created any other way? Highly unlikely. They might be a little easier, they might not, and we'll have to see how it develops. But a market which is obsessed with the tools and the appurtenances rather than the actual effects is clearly focussing on the wrong thing. If any sanity reigns, a year from now we'll find people are going to be focussing on what people are using the Internet for, what people are using these tools for, and not on the tools and the standards and the things themselves. Within the computer industry they're of huge interest, obviously; we're all about tools and protocols and standards and all that other stuff. As we should be. But in terms of what people should really care about, very broadly, it isn't that stuff. No one goes to a Frank Lloyd Wright house and says God, I wonder what kind of cement he used! You see some great painting in the Met and you say, God, I wonder what sort of pigments there were. Or - my favorite example - who's the most powerful entity in Hollywood. Kodak? It's all their film. Or maybe Panavision. It's all their cameras. Well, if you said that to Steven Spielberg or anybody else in the film industry, they'd laugh. Sure, they use Kodak film and sure, we use Panavision cameras, but it's what we do with it that actually matters.

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