Tim In The LA Times On Getting Serious

As Tim mentioned earlier this week during tough times it’s important to work on things that matter. The LA Times dives into Tim’s thinking with a piece published yesterday. From the story:

O’Reilly argues that Silicon Valley has strayed from the passion and idealism that fuel innovation to instead follow what he calls the “mad pursuit of the buck with stupider and stupider ideas.”

Flush with money and opportunity following the post-dot-com resurgence, he says, some entrepreneurs have cocooned in a “reality bubble,” insulated from poverty, disease, global warming and other problems that are gripping the planet. He argues that they should follow the model of some of the world’s most successful technology companies, including Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp., which sprang from their founders’ efforts to “work on stuff that matters.”

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  • It truly is “only human” to take the path of least resistance. That often translates into doing what’s already been done because–damn!–innovation is hard work, and risky!

    Besides which, too much money can make you stupid.

  • bowerbird

    i thought tim o’reilly was leading the pack all this time.

    he _invented_ the phrase “web two point oh”, didn’t he?

    now he wants to disown the direction the pack has taken?


  • He is right that being practical increases the odds of success for any venture, especially during economically tough times.

    However, many young techies are getting their feet wet with these new, pop culture apps.

    If any of their ideas catch on, they may then attempt to make some money off them to help pay off bills and loans that they have accumulated – by turning them into their first business.

    They can’t all focus on immediately changing the world via Web 2.0 tech.

  • O’Reilly (Mr.) is in a tough spot because of his ambiguous leadership position and role in history. And he keeps showing more and more interest in spending his political capital on practicals and tangibles (e.g., “make” and now this (sure, rhetorically imperfect) exhortation.

    I’m interested in where he’s going.

    Wish I could lay my hands on some of his investment bucks but I structurally can’t offer the conventionally correct instrument for such … I’d count that among the problems worth working on: the investment models are too rigid for reality to conform to.


  • I like this post so much!

  • @bowerbird:

    You don’t seem to get it: I’ve always complained about the trivialization of the term “Web 2.0” – to me, it means the network as platform and all the possibilities that opens for applications that harness collective intelligence and get better through network effects. For you, and a lot of other people, it seems to mean lightweight advertising-funded startups.

    I’m not changing my tune, just being vindicated. And trying to urge entrepreneurs to get back to work on stuff that matters.

  • I asked this question on Twitter a few days ago and got several responses. I’m curious if anyone here has any ideas:

    Tim O’Reilly is telling us to work on things that matter. What are some things that matter right now (besides energy conservation and environmental issues, which have been heavily discussed already) that you believe technology can solve?

  • bowerbird

    tim said:
    > You don’t seem to get it.

    oh, i think i “get it” just fine, tim.

    > to me, it means the network as platform and
    > all the possibilities that opens for applications
    > that harness collective intelligence and
    > get better through network effects.

    yes, i agree that’s what you’ve been saying…

    and it all sounds pretty good — albeit obvious —
    but i don’t see _anything_ in that spiel at all about
    “doing something that really matters.” never have.

    > For you, and a lot of other people, it seems to mean
    > lightweight advertising-funded startups.

    i think you’re trying to put words in my mouth now.

    where have i said anything even remotely like that?

    i think the whole v.c./advertising game is a big joke.

    the thing is, i don’t claim to be any kind of a “leader”
    of this “movement”, and i never have, so i can dismiss
    the trivial aspects of it quite easily. if i ever want to…

    but that’s not what this is about…

    what this is about is whether _you_ — tim o’reilly —
    _are_ or _are_not_ a leader of this whole web 2.0 thing.

    if you are, take some responsibility for where it’s gone,
    even if you now wish to take it in a different direction…

    the way it seems now, though, you want to take credit
    when there is credit to be dished out, but avoid blame
    when the blame is being dished out instead. which is,
    i suppose, only human. so i’m calling you out as human.

    does that bother you? :+)


  • Wonderful article. Like any other communications technology, social networks will also morph into a ‘useful’ communication tool. 3 of us from the silicon valley launched a ‘useful’ application called OfficeBook on Facebook in June this year. The objective was to use the ‘socialness’ of FB to help job seekers identify a perfect work place whose culture matches with their own values. Users over the last many months have rated companies such as Citicorp, Lehman Brothers, Intel, Google, Facebook on the culture that exists in those organizations. However, the growth of our ‘useful’ app has been slow. Users of social networks must encourage applications that use the power of crowd/community to help each other.


  • I got interested into corporate social responsibility after reading Lugano Report (Susan George), No Logo (Naomi Klein) and other works now widespread. I bought the domain “faircompanies.com” back in 2006, before the “Inconvenient Truth” momentum. My idea was to create some sort of “Whole Earth Catalog” of the Internet. Now we are improving the second version of the site, a place with information and -soon- tools on sustainability. The site remains independent and we’d like to build that online place where “fairness” and “companies” can meet. We want to be the craigslist of sustainability, and think similar ideas will pop up everywhere. Some of them will account for the change needed.