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  •  Never met George, but I have talked to his brother (7+ / 0-)

    Many years ago, I did phone support for this piece of software called Netscape; I believe most of you have heard about it, so I won't describe what it does. But it was something that Gilder was wound up about, & how it was going to "change the world".

    (Side note: No, I did not work for Netscape; I worked for a company that Netscape hired to do customer support for Netscape, & was later "advised" by Bain Capital in their usual way -- without lube. I could tell some stories about that job & that company, but they're not really relevant to tonight's diary.)

    And because George was wound up about it, he talked his brother into using it. For which, I hate George with a passion.

    You see, where George Gilder has a reputation for being the rare Technologist who actually understands technology, his brother is (well, was at the time) your more common clueless end user an impatient neophyte a challenge to work with. He could never get his copy of Netscape to work right for very long.

    Yes, this was back in the days of Windows 3.1 & 14.4 baud modems when networking was still an exclusively advanced skill (& getting a modem to work properly is still black magic IMHO), but George's brother was flailing abysmally. And screaming abuse at any & all of the support team because it was "obviously" our fault. ("My brother said this would make it all trivially easy!" Okay, not his exact words, but close enough.) He earned himself a reputation of being one of the 3 worst customers -- the kind any intelligent boss would just refund his money & tell the guy to GO AWAY boss would expect you to make happy, do whatever it took, but as long as you kept the call times down.

    About the time he became a Technologist, he was trying to run away from his earlier reputation as an intellectual misogynist -- so Po Bronson says in his book The Nudist on the Late Shift. I never bought or read any of Gilder's books, but I did read one of his technology articles back in the 1990s, & while I'd say I knew far less than I thought I did about the Internet & networking technology, Gilder struck me then as being as insightful about the industry as people thought he was.

    And I really haven't thought about either Gilder boy since the end of the 1990s. I had to check his Wikipedia article to determine if George was even still alive. (And I haven't mentioned the brother's first name for simple reason I honestly don't remember it. Just the frustration of dealing with him.)

    •  Evidently Gilder does know his tech (6+ / 0-)

      Too bad the same can't be said about politics or anthropology or women or science....

      Good Lord, I feel bad for you, having to work with his brother.  What a mess!

      This isn't freedom. This is fear - Captain America

      by Ellid on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 05:02:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, maybe compared to non-techies he does (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, raboof

        From my years in the technology industry, I find there are two worlds.

        There's the world of the spokespeople, the CEOs & "visionaries" who talk about each new product or release as if it represents the greatest invention since the printing press;* & insist straight-faced that with a touch of a button everyone using it will enjoy  instant information, unlimited wealth, & their computer will never crash.

        Then there's the world of the people who actually make the stuff work. Who have to deal with the bugs & design flaws & making the stuff actually work in a way that arguably resembles what the CEOs & "visionaries" describe.

        The first group would be lost without their army of flunkies who are at hand to fix any problem on their computer as they appear -- & remember to do things like clear their browser cache so no one is embarrassed when mistakes get out to the general public. The second group, while it's full of people who simply see it as a job & try to forget what they worked on at quitting time -- which is not always 5 pm -- contains the real visionaries. The people who are eager to share the fact that if you take a common, everyday feature of the software/hardware, & make a simple change -- or do this & this with it -- you end up with something entirely new & incredibly powerful.

        Yet the attention is always on the first group, & not the second -- even when they prove their vapidness & lack of critical thinking in other, less complex subjects. Maybe it's because the second group tend more to people with poor social skills. Or maybe because you actually have to be intelligent to understand & appreciate what the second group is saying & doing.

        * Yeah, looking back I would admit the invention of the World Wide Web did change a lot of lives for the better. Not so much a lot of the stuff built on it. However, I still believe the most important inventions of the last 200 years were strike-anywhere matches & the washing machine. I honestly would not want to live without either for an extended period of time -- & I could live without the Web.

        •  My money would be on anesthesia (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest, llywrch

          So many people would have died without it.

          This isn't freedom. This is fear - Captain America

          by Ellid on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 03:11:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  If we're talking medicine, I differ (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RiveroftheWest

            Simple cleanliness was far more important: doctors & surgeons rarely washed their hands before Joseph Lister showed the correlation between antiseptic conditions & patient survival rates.  

            Sadly, some doctors still don't think it's that important.

            •  I think he got the idea from Semmelweis (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RiveroftheWest

              But you definitely have a point.  Cleanliness saved thousands of lives, especially in teaching hospitals.  Now they actually have ultraviolet lights in operating rooms to kill germs.  Gives everything this weird purplish-white tinge....

              This isn't freedom. This is fear - Captain America

              by Ellid on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 03:37:16 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Washing machines and (3+ / 0-)

          modern clean and greywater systems.

          Have you ever hauled water for a house without piped water? Water weighs eight pounds a gallon.

          I am currently hauling the greywater from the kitchen sink. (This is due to a blocked drain that no one will rent the power auger to fix. Cause they aren't hauling water....)  Doing an average day's dishes involves hauling 80 pounds of water or more.

          I am going to be moving to a house in which I don't have running water. This will significantly increase my work, and decrease my comfort.

          When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

          by Alexandra Lynch on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 06:21:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm reminded of what LBJ once said (4+ / 0-)

            Someone asked him what his greatest accomplishment was, and he said rural electrification.  He knew how hard farm wives had to work hauling water, tending the stove, and doing laundry by hand, and electricity would save them a huge amount of time and effort.  Evidently women came up to him for years afterward to thank him, tears in their eyes, and tell him that electricity had kept them from dying young the way their mothers had.

            The best of luck to you in the new place - that doesn't sound like much fun. :(

            This isn't freedom. This is fear - Captain America

            by Ellid on Sun Feb 23, 2014 at 07:44:41 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  The Romans created clean & greywater systems (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Alexandra Lynch, RiveroftheWest

            It just took something like 1700 years for it to reach the majority of Europeans. And longer for the rest of the world; there are parts of the world where one has to walk 5 miles for potable water -- & not just in Africa.

            So although you have a point, I couldn't include that in my short list since it had been invented long ago -- just not implemented in the last 200 years.

            •  And it was lost after the fall of Rome (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RiveroftheWest

              Medieval Rome was basically an open sewer.

              This isn't freedom. This is fear - Captain America

              by Ellid on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 03:38:08 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Almost lost (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RiveroftheWest

                The city of Constantinople had -- & used up to at least the 15th century (InAnatalya might know better than me) a clean water supply. 15th century visitors were fascinated by the underground reservoir, which is located near the Hagia Sophia church.

                It was one of many visible reminders over the following centuries of a possible better physical standard of living.

                •  Very true (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  RiveroftheWest

                  Alas, it took until the early 19th century for clean public water supplies to be standard in European cities.  London, Rome, Paris, Prague...they were all filthy, with sewage in the gutters and on the streets, contaminated water, and periodic epidemics of water-borne diseases like typhus, cholera, and dysentery.  I mean, even Versailles, the visible sign of French royal power, was designed without a sewage system or water closets, and that was the 17th century.

                  This isn't freedom. This is fear - Captain America

                  by Ellid on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 07:48:58 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  Well, maybe compared to non-techies he does (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest

        From my years in the technology industry, I find there are two worlds.

        There's the world of the spokespeople, the CEOs & "visionaries" who talk about each new product or release as if it represents the greatest invention since the printing press;[1] & insist straight-faced that with a touch of a button everyone using it will enjoy  instant information, unlimited wealth, & their computer will never crash.

        Then there's the world of the people who actually make the stuff work. Who have to deal with the bugs & design flaws & making the stuff actually work in a way that arguably resembles what the CEOs & "visionaries" describe.[2]

        The first group would be lost without their army of flunkies who are at hand to fix any problem on their computer as they appear -- & remember to do things like clear their browser cache so no one is embarrassed when mistakes get out to the general public. The second group, while it's full of people who simply see it as a job & try to forget what they worked on at quitting time -- which is not always 5 pm -- contains the real visionaries. The people who are eager to share the fact that if you take a common, everyday feature of the software/hardware, & make a simple change -- or do this & this with it -- you end up with something entirely new & incredibly powerful.

        Yet the attention is always on the first group, & not the second -- even when they prove their vapidness & lack of critical thinking in other, less complex subjects. Maybe it's because the second group tend more to people with poor social skills. Or maybe because you actually have to be intelligent to understand & appreciate what the second group is saying & doing.

        [1] Yeah, looking back I would admit the invention of the World Wide Web did change a lot of lives for the better. Not so much a lot of the stuff built on it. However, I still believe the most important inventions of the last 200 years were strike-anywhere matches & the washing machine. I honestly would not want to live without either for an extended period of time -- & I could live without the Web.

        [2] And find their skill with computers compromised by kittens who insist on dancing their keyboards. Sigh.

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