Geek Idol: A Competition to Promote Competitiveness

A couple weeks from now we’re going to start serializing my 1992 book Accidental Empires: How the Boys of Silicon Valley Make Their Millions, Battle Foreign Competition, and Still Can’t Get a Date. It’s the book that was the basis for my 1996 documentary TV series Triumph of the Nerds and ultimately led to this column starting on pbs.org in 1997.

What goes around comes around.

We’ll be serializing the complete 1996 paperback edition which is 102,000 words in length, pumping the book onto the intertubes at around 2,000 words per day. In about 51 days, give or take a bit, we’ll put the entire work on the web with no ads and no subscription fee, just lots and lots of […]

The nanotech replicators are coming!

 
That’s physicist Michio Kaku talking about the upsides, downsides, insides and outsides of having a replicator like on Star Trek to make anything we’d ever need or want. It’s a compelling vision and he’s right that its implications go far beyond the economic to include cultural, social, even psychological. Kaku says it’s possible to make such a device and suggests we’ll have it in 100 years.

I say we’ll have it in 20.

A longtime friend of mine has significant pieces of a replicator functioning in his lab right now. He’s no mad scientist but a respected engineer who is known for his broad technical interests. Right now he can’t make you a mug of Earl Grey […]

The DARPA Way

Depending on who you are talking to there were several very different reasons why the Internet was created, whether it was military command and control (Curtis LeMay told me that), to create a new communication and commerce infrastructure (Al Gore), or simply to advance the science of digital communications (lots of people). But Bob Taylor says the Internet was created to save money. And since Bob Taylor was, more than anyone, the guy who caused the Internet to be created, well I’ll believe him.

Bob Taylor, probably best known for building and managing the Computer Systems Laboratory at XEROX PARC from which emerged advances including Ethernet, laser printing, and SmallTalk, was before that the DARPA program […]