Silicon Valley moments…

We were sitting in the hall in front of the Special Needs Nursery. Dave Winer, Patrick, and me. Dave and Patrick had their Macs open and were taking advantage of the free Wifi to blog and upload another picture (we were waiting for Milan cause Maryam and friends were visiting and we can only have a visitor or two into see him at one time).

Anyway, a group of surgeons walked by and one saw the Macs and said:

“Mac guys, I love it. Do you have the new iLife?”

Now THAT is what I call evangelism.

Dave turned to Patrick and said “that was a Silicon Valley moment.”

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Stephanie Agresta and Hans Veldhuizen in Palo Alto Apple store

Another moment? We took off from the hospital for a little while and got lunch and then visited the Apple store. Patrick bought iWork (he already has Microsoft Office but says iWork is a lot better for his reports and such). Dave got a MacMini. At the Apple store two people recognized me. One was from New York. The other from Amsterdam. UPDATE: That’s them in the picture.

The Amsterdam visitor was Hans Veldhuizen, founder and president of Novatunes (he told us he’s building a new kind of music service that’ll be shipped later this year). He’s here to attend the TechCrunch 40 conference and saw Dave Twittering that he was in the Apple store (there’s a LOT more people Twittering than you might think). Stephanie Agresta is a consultant and told us she just joined forces with the Conversation Group. Small world, cause I know a few people involved in this new social media consultancy. Giovanni, one of the partners, is who introduced me and Podtech to Seagate. They are already doing work for SAP, so will be very interesting to watch and see how they get more companies involved in the social networks.

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A moment in Milan’s life: I’ve been looking at all the technology used inside the nursery to monitor babies and such. The coolest thing I’ve seen so far is the ABM, or Auditory Brainstem Response test. Milan was asleep during his. Two little headphones play sounds into his ears and two electrodes on his head detected responses. He passed fine. but I just thought that was the coolest piece of tech. I’d love to meet the person/team who came up with this. Milan never even woke up for the test. Imagine if you were alive 100 years ago and took a time travel machine to today. Would you recognize anything in this world? Probably not.

Today Patrick and Dave were asking themselves what kind of computer Milan will have when he’s 13 years old (Patrick is 13, so is interested in such things).

I answered it’d have 4 terrabytes of RAM and 1,000 terrabytes of hard disk space. Patrick looked amazed and said something like there’s no way that such a computer would happen so quickly.

I told him that when he was born, back in January of 1994 the Web browser had barely been invented (Netscape incorporated that year) and that Windows 95 hadn’t yet shipped. The average computer back then had something like 16 megabytes of RAM (not gigs, megs) and a 40 megabyte hard drive (really cool computers had 32 megs of RAM and an 120 meg hard drive. I didn’t think we’d have a computer in our hands that would have a lot more memory than that and would be on the Internet 24/7 to boot.

What an amazing time to be alive. If we dream for a moment about 13 years from now, what do you see?

How about a mouse that works off of your brainwaves? How about a computer 10x more powerful than an iPhone that’s embedded onto your glasses? How about a petabyte hard drive? Or a printer that you could fit in your wallet so you could hand out pictures of your kids to friends who wanted them? I’ll be honest, I’m scared by the thought of embedding a computer into my body, but we’ll definitely see those. I’ve already met people who have RFID tags in their hands, which is mighty weird today but might become commonplace over the next decade or so. Imagine buying Starbucks just by waving your hand over the counter and not needing to carry credit cards. Oh, that’s another change that’s happened since Patrick is alive. Now almost every store and restaurant takes credit cards (at least in Silicon Valley). I remember when I got nasty stares at Starbucks for trying to use a credit card instead of paying cash.

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A pile of gifts arrived yesterday from lots of my friends (both “real” and “online”). We really appreciate that and we’re going to make a donation in kind to help out kids less fortunate than us.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the “lottery of life” lately. Everytime I hear that damn helicopter come into the trauma center I think about the fact that someone is in a world of hurt while I’m the luckiest guy in the world.

On Wednesday, when we were in the testing center we encountered a pregnant woman who was sobbing, being consoled by her relatives. Obviously she had gotten some bad news of some kind. I can’t get her out of my mind. I’m so lucky. Patrick is such a great kid. Milan is so healthy and happy and wonderful and Maryam is just the best person I could wish for. Why did I get such a great family when she, obviously, got some really tragic news?

It’s so random, the lottery of life. A friend of mine knows an extremely rich woman up in Seattle. She has adopted a little girl from China. She told my friend “this little girl had to be abandoned to win the lottery.” I’ve been thinking about that, too. It’s so sad that there’s kids out there who aren’t loved the way Milan is being loved.

I’m thinking back to when I met Paul Singer, senior vice president and CIO at Target. He wears a pin that says “Adopt.” Great people make the kind of impression on you that last years, even though you only meet them once for a few minutes. I wish I was 1/10th the human being that Paul is.

Walking through the hospital and seeing the Packard name, along with tons of Silicon Valley famous people, on a wall remembering those who donated major money to build one of the world’s great teaching hospitals, it makes me remember what great leaders Silicon Valley has been fortunate to have pass through and there are no bigger than the Packards. They did things that make life better for all of us, both in times of need (hospitals) as well as places to take our kids (the Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the world’s best, was started by their daughter).

I want to interview more of people like that: people who aren’t just out to make another dollar, but who are making the world a better place through their actions.

Do you know of someone like that in the tech industry? Give me a call or drop me an email (er, a Twitter, or a Facebook message). We need more tech industry moments like those.

Comments

  1. I love how a child’s arrival deepens everything and makes all of life seem so fragile and precious. Thanks for sharing the birth of Milan so generously through Twitter, Flickr, and here. I feel softened and enlarged when I read these words of yours.

  2. I love how a child’s arrival deepens everything and makes all of life seem so fragile and precious. Thanks for sharing the birth of Milan so generously through Twitter, Flickr, and here. I feel softened and enlarged when I read these words of yours.

  3. There is something very big happening right now. It reminds me of ’94, when the web emerged. I think this “social web” (which I hope will be as open as the first web) will be a disruptive, transformative, and ultimately unpredictable change agent.

    My daughter is turning four, and I find Kurzweil’s “The Singularity is Near” a profound provocation for what it means to be a parent in this time.

  4. There is something very big happening right now. It reminds me of ’94, when the web emerged. I think this “social web” (which I hope will be as open as the first web) will be a disruptive, transformative, and ultimately unpredictable change agent.

    My daughter is turning four, and I find Kurzweil’s “The Singularity is Near” a profound provocation for what it means to be a parent in this time.

  5. Interesting post on a lot of different topics, especially Silicon Valley beyond just trying to make a buck. Your thoughts on the lottery of life remind me a lot of Warren Buffett’s thoughts on life and being in the “lucky sperm club.” It would be great if you could interview him!

    Things I’ve seen in my lifetime in my 36 years: the ATM, the PC, re-usable space vehicle (space shuttle), Compact Disc/ CD player, the answering machine / voice mail, Post It notes, cell phone, email, web browser, digital camera, mp3 player/ipod, car navigation system… I am sure I am missing a lot more.

  6. Interesting post on a lot of different topics, especially Silicon Valley beyond just trying to make a buck. Your thoughts on the lottery of life remind me a lot of Warren Buffett’s thoughts on life and being in the “lucky sperm club.” It would be great if you could interview him!

    Things I’ve seen in my lifetime in my 36 years: the ATM, the PC, re-usable space vehicle (space shuttle), Compact Disc/ CD player, the answering machine / voice mail, Post It notes, cell phone, email, web browser, digital camera, mp3 player/ipod, car navigation system… I am sure I am missing a lot more.

  7. Lovely post–congratulations to all!

    Your futurology reminds me of Jacob Bronowski’s optimism about human futures, a feeling I share. Bronowski based his optimism on his conviction that human culture was such a novelty on the planet, so revolutionary, and had accomplished so much in a biologically-tiny time interval.

    His TV series from the 1970s, _Ascent of Man_, is on DVDs–Frank and I have been enjoying it (not least for the fun of giggling at the 70s) — you and Patrick might enjoy it too.

  8. Lovely post–congratulations to all!

    Your futurology reminds me of Jacob Bronowski’s optimism about human futures, a feeling I share. Bronowski based his optimism on his conviction that human culture was such a novelty on the planet, so revolutionary, and had accomplished so much in a biologically-tiny time interval.

    His TV series from the 1970s, _Ascent of Man_, is on DVDs–Frank and I have been enjoying it (not least for the fun of giggling at the 70s) — you and Patrick might enjoy it too.

  9. I think computers will be pretty much the same or disappear (or become something more portable). Although the servers will be much more powerful.

    There are some problems to find files in today’s hard drives and it’s not gonna be any better if we got more storage.

  10. I think computers will be pretty much the same or disappear (or become something more portable). Although the servers will be much more powerful.

    There are some problems to find files in today’s hard drives and it’s not gonna be any better if we got more storage.

  11. Great post in the context of Milan’s life in terms of our past and future tech advancements. Judy and I are thinking of you and wish you all the best. And how wonderful to have Patrick there with Dave W. It’s clear you are all a very tight bunch. How awesome that will be for Milan and everyone else as he grows up and the advances in our lives keep screaming along.

  12. Great post in the context of Milan’s life in terms of our past and future tech advancements. Judy and I are thinking of you and wish you all the best. And how wonderful to have Patrick there with Dave W. It’s clear you are all a very tight bunch. How awesome that will be for Milan and everyone else as he grows up and the advances in our lives keep screaming along.

  13. [...] In a post today Robert Scoble (congrats to both you and Maryam on the addition to your family) in a moment of reflection with his son Patrick and fellow blogger Dave Winer wonder what we might be using for computers when his son Milan is 13 years old. [...]

  14. I wonder all the time about the stuff our kids will be doing and seeing in the future. My first computer was a Mac Classic back in 1988. Our son plays games on playhouse Disney on a great computer…even though it’s several years old.

    My husband just bought the new 24″ iMac for our pictures…it’s really very cool.

    It is downright amazing what technology they have in hospitals (NICUs especially) these days. Stunning actually. The medical field however is still way behind in its IT infrastructure implementation.

    I have run across some great tech people in my life. Do you care if they are retired or not?

  15. I wonder all the time about the stuff our kids will be doing and seeing in the future. My first computer was a Mac Classic back in 1988. Our son plays games on playhouse Disney on a great computer…even though it’s several years old.

    My husband just bought the new 24″ iMac for our pictures…it’s really very cool.

    It is downright amazing what technology they have in hospitals (NICUs especially) these days. Stunning actually. The medical field however is still way behind in its IT infrastructure implementation.

    I have run across some great tech people in my life. Do you care if they are retired or not?

  16. Robert, you are one of those people like Paul Singer, in your own way, touching people’s lives and helping them understand it is good to be MORE human in their work. More importantly, the way you love Maryam, the way you have raised Patrick and the great love you have for Milan makes more of a difference in this world then you realize.

    Just keep looking at the world with your eyes wide open, sharing what you see and how it makes you feel in posts like this and the circle will continue to widen, and the world will get a little better each day…

  17. Robert, you are one of those people like Paul Singer, in your own way, touching people’s lives and helping them understand it is good to be MORE human in their work. More importantly, the way you love Maryam, the way you have raised Patrick and the great love you have for Milan makes more of a difference in this world then you realize.

    Just keep looking at the world with your eyes wide open, sharing what you see and how it makes you feel in posts like this and the circle will continue to widen, and the world will get a little better each day…

  18. In all honesty, I think the smart people will have figured out quantum computing before 13 years are up.

    It’s gonna happen soon.

    Imagine searching a peta- or exabyte drive in mere nanoseconds for data.

    Google will long be dethroned as the Internet leader in 13 years.

    Space travel will still be stagnant. I’m looking to the Chinese for interesting space developments.

  19. In all honesty, I think the smart people will have figured out quantum computing before 13 years are up.

    It’s gonna happen soon.

    Imagine searching a peta- or exabyte drive in mere nanoseconds for data.

    Google will long be dethroned as the Internet leader in 13 years.

    Space travel will still be stagnant. I’m looking to the Chinese for interesting space developments.

  20. Actually size of hard drives back then were about 800megs to 1 gig.

    Also your memory stats are off by a factor of at least 2 I do believe.

    Oh and the big CPU at the time was a 486 133mhz from Intel.

    And don’t forget that separate 3d graphics cards were in their infancy…barely existed at all on the consumer front.

    Definitely a lot has changed since then.

    Heck the original Playstation hadn’t even come out yet (was released in Japan in December of 94).

  21. Actually size of hard drives back then were about 800megs to 1 gig.

    Also your memory stats are off by a factor of at least 2 I do believe.

    Oh and the big CPU at the time was a 486 133mhz from Intel.

    And don’t forget that separate 3d graphics cards were in their infancy…barely existed at all on the consumer front.

    Definitely a lot has changed since then.

    Heck the original Playstation hadn’t even come out yet (was released in Japan in December of 94).