Wednesday, January 03, 2007

fyi Where Will The Next Bill Gates Come From? Not The United States, Most Americans Say According To New Poll


Found content:

My take:

This is, of course, inane in the extreme. Zogby should be ashamed of themselves for phrasing the question in this ridiculous manner, and for pretending that the collective responses are worthy of serious consideration. While we’re on the topic, where are the “next” instances of the 6 billion-plus unique humans on the planet going to come from? Cloning seems the only truly effective approach, but I digress.

But I suppose that institutionalized idiocy has its own weird logic. What this misbegotten market research shows is that Mr. William Gates III has truly passed from the realm of limited mortals into the cultural hagiosphere. Does the following phrase sound like Christian second-coming imagery to you? “’The next Bill Gates has already been born, and time will tell what country is providing the environment of innovation, entrepreneurism and opportunity to enable him or her to flourish with the next great idea,’ said 463 partner Tom Galvin.” Or perhaps the current mortal Bill is an avatar of some timeless Hindu deity. But once again, I digress.

Clearly, the man who co-founded Microsoft has long since passed far beyond, say, Rockefeller, Carnegie, or JP Morgan in the pantheon of capitalist earthly gods. How can I make that assertion? Ask children to name one rich person known principally for his/her riches (as opposed to whatever celebrity career, be it athlete actor or musician, furnished them their largesse). Even in their days, I suspect, those ancient robber barons were probably known to few children. Even the kids who frequented the Carnegie-funded libraries (such as the one in my father’s Wisconsin hometown) probably didn’t realize that a munificent human was putting books in their hot little hands.

But today’s preschoolers, everywhere, know quite well that some well-endowed individual named Bill Gates is behind all things software, including the Internet (yes, I’m assuming that few tots care about the distinctions between Microsoft and other software companies). Maybe that lowest-common-denominator overattribution will diminish over time as Gates (perhaps) withdraws from active participation in the high-tech industries, but maybe not.

The world community demands an “inventor” of this created software universe. “Bill Gates” is a serviceable “father” to it all. “He” is two easy syllables that almost everybody everywhere can say with ease and be immediately understood.

Better than G. Presper Eckert.

But in some sense this annoying opinion survey may be onto something. If Bill Gates is an avatar of some timeless presence—in Hindu terms, the “creator”—then maybe the “next Bill Gates” refers to the next manifest avatar of some counter-personage in that pantheon. The “destroyer”? Who will come along to destroy or dismantle Gates’ software industry legacy? From a financial standpoint, Gates and his wife are self-dismantling through their foundation.

From an industry standpoint, open source, software as a service, virtualization, etc are dismantling Microsoft’s created order, steadily, erosively. “The Zogby/463 Internet Attitudes poll found that practically half of all Americans (49 percent) believe that the next great technology leader will come from either China or Japan. Twenty-one percent believe that ‘next Bill Gates’ will come from the United States while 13 percent believe he or she will come from India.”

So, given that half the world’s people are from Asia, chances of the “next Bill Gates”—the “destroyer” but also the “creator” of the next softworld order--coming from that region are a coin flip.