Friday, October 19, 2007

Bring on the Jeans

So, I have been paying attention to the Web 2.0 Summit this week over there on the other side of the country. There was a GREAT interview with Mark Zuckerberg (you know, the kid that created Facebook) and I was so insanely impressed. Why? Other than liking his shoes, I am just totally impressed with this generation of "Ivy League dropouts" (as the announcer called him).

I get the same good feeling about Mark that I get from listing to Sergey Brin or Phillip Linden or even Howard Stern. No, they don't hold PhDs in whatever-it-is-you-major-in-to-be-important. They each took a concept, made it happen, and, holy pete, they are brilliant!

Let's take a look at each of these guys. They wear what they want. They are doing what they love. They have nothing to prove.

Whatever you may think about the content of the Howard Stern show, you have to admit the guy is totally brilliant. He has over the past 20 years, with his team of loyal employees and fans, revolutionized the radio industry. He didn't sit back and say, "Oh, sorry, I shouldn't have said THAT...I will be more careful next time. " He said, "Look, this is AMERICA...if I can't say THAT here, where on earth can I say it??? And, then he went to Sirius...and I, along with millions of other people, bought the radios, the subscriptions, and tuned in to hear what he would say in a world with no boundaries. Do I like all the stuff I hear there? Nope. But, I don't like a lot of what I hear anywhere. I DO like that he has the freedom to talk about what he wants in the way he wants to talk about it. I like the idea that he has, through all of the fines and bad press, championed free speech and, truly, has done more for the amendment than ANY other media personality. I don't have to like the strippers to appreciate the trailblazing he has done. And, the beauty of freedom is that I can as easily tune out as in, and make my own choices about what is edifying.

In many ways, Howard Stern was the pre-cursor to the freedom we see on the web. Facebook, started by Mark-the-Kid-from-Harvard (who is, in my opinion, way more "seasoned" than CEOs of big-ole stuffy corporations) celebrates that same kind of freedom. You have the FREEDOM to post stupid pics of yourself doing stupid and illegal things. Having the platform doesn't mean you have to do bad things with it. It can ALSO be used for other cool things like getting your band's name out there or meeting new folks at your school. Can it be used for ill? Sure it can. All things can be used for ill, but we don't need big brother telling us what we should and shouldn't use.

Linden Lab is based on that same principle. We are bound only by the physics of SL. Sure, bad things happen in SL. But, hey, bad things happen everywhere and GOOD things happen everywhere. Eliminating an environment like Second Life doesn't lessen the number of crazy people out there. When I met Philip Linden, I was just impressed with how kind and down to earth he was. Like Mark and Sergey, he is a guy doing what he loves and a lot of people love it along with him.

The Google Boys, Sergey being just one of those Stanford crew, have that same energy and light. Let's see what happens when people can be creative. You don't need a degree to do that. You don't need a stamp that says you have jumped through hoops. You prove your worth by the effectiveness of your product. And, by golly, Google has done that. They allow people to be creative.

So, what happens to all the scrambling academics? Nothing changes. We have all known, or should know, that the most brilliant kids didn't and don't need degrees. Just because Stern doesn't have a PhD in Communications doesn't mean he is any less qualified to speak about it. If anything, he is MORE qualified to speak about it because he has been out there on the front lines championing free speech for decades. Facebook is working, and Mark doesn't need to speak the lingo of a CEO to make it work. He doesn't need an MBA from Harvard to do what he is already doing. Second Life isn't perfect...but nothing is...and Philip doesn't need a star from Stanford anymore than Sergey does. They are revolutionizing the world and our job is to watch and participate.

I love the new freedom of satellite radio, the freedom of the social web, and the freedom of virtual worlds.

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