The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story (Anglais) Broché – 5 octobre 2000
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|Broché, 5 octobre 2000||
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"May be to Silicon Valley what Pepys's diary was to 1660's London or Twain's Roughing It to the American West of the last century." --Kurt Andersen, The New York Times Book Review (front-page review)--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .
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The problem with "The New New Thing" is that Michael Lewis is not critical enough of Jim Clark. Jim Clark certainly was generous to Michael Lewis by letting him tag along on so many of his adventures, and it would probably have been inapproriate for Lewis to be more critical of his subject. But, this doesn't make it an interesting book.
If you're looking for the "Liar's Poker" of the Internet, try Michael Wolf's "Burn Rate," or Po Bronson's "Nudist on the Late Shift," both of which contain much more interesting people, much more information about the internet revolution, and much more cynicisim.
To my utter surprise, the book was not only entertaining, but it brought to my attention some facts about the world that I live in that I had never fully realised:
1) You can choose to be a down and out misfit on the road to nowhere, or you can choose to show 'em all and make something of your life
2) Having decided to do something, there is no actual limit to how big you can think
3) An individual can actually swing the entire economy and all of its big established companies around to a different agenda and different competitive landscape
4) If you are blessed/cursed with the kind of mind that loves to dwell in "pure possibility", is never satisfied with the way things are and can always see how they could be, do what Jim Clark does - get on with changing the world! Actions speak louder than words.
5) Engineers have finally realised that they should be more fairly compensated, relative to the amount of value they create in the economy. The consequence of this is that financiers, who really don't understand what or how an engineer does what he does, must now compete to get a piece of the action. A financier, even if he has infinite money, cannot personally create anything of tangible value with his financial skills. Contrast this to what an engineer with good skills can create and you realise that what really counts is the creation of tangible things that make the human condition somehow better. This realisation is driving the new new economic realities - engineers can build a better world, financiers can only pay for them to do it.
6) You don't have to be especially bright or gifted to change the course of business history, but if you are, you owe it to yourself and others to use those gifts to the best advantage you can
So, all things considered, this book was a revelation and an especially welcome pleasant surprise.
There were two parts of the book I particularly loved: First, the part on the engineers from India was compelling. These kids grow up on the brink of starvation and work their tails off to make it to Silicon Valley to seek their dreams. The book keenly demonstrates how Jim Clark is able to harness these kind of people and let their talents operate in the most productive way, and also make them rich beyond their wildest dreams.
Second, the best part of the book was the second to last chapter, about how Jim Clark came from absolute poverty in Texas. Clark had to defend his mother from his drunken father, and his mother had only $5 a month after the bills were paid. The book keenly demonstrates how Clark's sense of anarchy and adventure led him to rise far above the hand he was dealt in life.
The story of how Clark has made 3 different billion dollar companies is amazing, and even more amazing is that he is using his talents to create a fourth company instead of only sailing his crazy boat.
You'll learn a lot when you read this book, it will inspire you, and you'll enjoy it. Read it soon, before the next new new thing makes it irrelevant.
I also found the book rather scary in its depiction of how our educational system fails to "connect" with the brightest students: Clark was bored in school, became a prankster, and eventually was expelled; if he hadn't chanced to meet a teacher who recognized his great talents in math, it's likely that his ingenuity and his desire for wealth would have led him into a life of crime. I felt that the author's attempts to explain Clark's behavior in terms of his unhappy family history and trying to "prove something" to the folks back in Plainview were rather weak: he's a typical "gifted" person in that he has an all-consuming interest in technology and will subordinate everything else to his pursuit of that. (If he were motivated only by a desire for wealth, he wouldn't be so willing to risk his own!) Our schools are still designed to turn out well-behaved "organization men," following the 1950's model that Lewis succinctly describes, and their failure to recognize real talent and teach its possessors how to use it well are, I feel, a major national failing.
All in all, this is a book that makes you think, as well as being amusing, and I feel everyone with an interest in high technology should read it.
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