FW: [iDC] RE: Garage Entrepreneurs

W. Reid Cornwell PhD. wrc at tcfir.org
Wed Jun 13 13:30:08 EDT 2007


This argument touches a nerve for me! I understood this list to be at some
level about "creativity". Creativity is not confined to writing poetry or
painting on a canvas. Creativity occurs wherever humans endeavor. The
snobbery that perseverates the belief otherwise does not give honor to that
spirit of creativity.

IMHO creativity is driven both by fancy and necessity. In the case of the
Internet the military necessity drove the early development but fancy and
entrpreneurship has driven the full and rich use of it. Government was the

Nancy Bayme, former president of the Association of Internet Researcher
(AOIR) and professor at University of Kansas has said, "I can't imagine that
any useful (Internet) research can occur outside a University." This exposes
another form of this snobbery. 

IMHO the Internet is the ultimate example of a free market of ideas in the
commons. All stakeholders should be reflexive with one another. In the case
of the Internet to discredit the role of the entrpreneur is equivalent to
discrediting Guttenburg because he was a printer.

For the scholar, falsification is the process that creates relative truth.
For the entrpreneur, it is market forces. For the scholar, who from the
comfort of the tax supported womb of the University pushes new ideas, the
risks are low. For the entrpreneur they often push new ideas without any

Many good ideas have languished unnoticed because the creator had not the
courage to risk their personal capital. Great thinkers have always been
distiguished, not by their ideas, but their passion to be heard against the
risk of challenging the status quo.

In the spirit of innovation and creativity, let's hear it for both the
laboratories of academia and the garages of silicon valley.

Reid Cornwell

P-----Original Message-----
From: idc-bounces at mailman.thing.net [mailto:idc-bounces at mailman.thing.net]
On Behalf Of Gere, Charlie
Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 2007 3:07 PM
To: Alex -Vipowernet; IDC list
Subject: [iDC] RE: Garage Entrepreneurs 

Dear Alex (if I may) and IDC list

I have no wish to deny the courage of entrepreneurs, nor their hard work,
but neither has any bearing on my argument, so just a few points

<snip>You look at Apple and Google and HP now and think they are BIG
I was there when Apple was tiny. And when the BCE was tiny.  When Google was
not yet a thought form.<>

The present size of the companies you cite either now or when they started
or the circumstances in which they were developed, again have no bearing on
the argument that they only exist because of the infrastructure developed by
the US government. 

<snip>You are confusing the creation of the infrastructure with the creation
of the companies that USE the infrastructure. 
Yes - the Internet depended on government funding to get bigger than tiny...
That is like the government building highways or airports... My Business was
the product of me busting my butt to use THAT infrastructure to create a new
enterprise that used the infrastructure.  That is like Ford developing a
mass market automobile or Rockefeller developing fuel refineries and gas
stations to run  on highways. <>

Neither Ford nor Roosevelt begin to conform to your garagiste fantasy of
entrepreneurship, almost precisely because they were deeply and explicitly
working within a structure only made possible by government funding (as in
fact all computer entrepreneurs are, though clearly with far less self

<snip>The vast majority of businesses (all businesses) began on dining room
tables and in garages.<>

What? Even Ford and Roosevelt's businesses?

<snip>Google is not a government funded start up project. It came from guys
in a garage... <>

Oh come on... Google was not really developed in a garage, but in the
extremely well-appointed and well-funded computer laboratories of Stanford

<snip>Your ignorance of history is staggering.  ENIAC was a big government
contract - not for the Cold War - it was for WW2.<>
For what its worth I do know about ENIAC as a glance at the second chapter
of my book Digital Culture will confirm. I did not mention it in this post
as ENIAC was a number cruncher, rather than the kind of computer enabled by
the development of SAGE in the 1950s, though it's development in relation to
the military needs of the US in WW2 would also absolutely confirm the point
I am trying to make

In my statement " Above all much of the development of computing as we now
know it was driven by US military needs in relation to the Cold War and
Vietnam", the operative phrase is "as we now know it" and perhaps I should
have added, as 'real-time interactive, symbolic manipulation technology'. My
bad. Please read Paul Edwards' brilliant book The Closed World for an
in-depth explanation of what I am talking about and about the primary
importance of the SAGE/Whirlwind project . 

<snip>The second successful commercial comptuer was for private industry.
And funded by entrepreneurs who worked by the seat of their pants (without a
BIG contract) and ran out of capital and had to sell their nascent business
to a larger company that could fund the development costs. See

By the same token I know about the history of Eckert and Mauchly, the first
commercial computer company and its exact relationship to the government
that enabled it to exist (again see Digital Culture, chap 2). They were able
to garner the expertise to build computers because of wartime government
funding and then go commercial because of the possibility of selling to the
same government that had given them the expertise in the first place. Apart
from anything else there was pretty well nobody else to sell to

<snip>PROBABLY!!!??! What is this word doing in this sentence? Are you
guessing? It sure seems like you are guessing. 
  You make it sound like Steve Jobs was living in a garage because there
were not enough workers housing projects for them... DO you think Palo Alto
is Moscow?  The vision is laughable. <>

You seem to have misunderstood what I was saying and also to be rather
exercised by my use of the word 'probably' in relation to the garages in
Silicon Valley (and to have a problem with a perfectly legitimate academic
caution about a supposition, a guess, reasonably informed, but a guess
nevertheless). My point is simply that the garages used by these
entrepreneurs were attached to houses that were built to house those working
in the solid-state electronics industry (rather than computing) that gave
Silicon Valley its name. I did not suggest that anyone was actually living
in a garage, though of course you were there, so perhaps you know

<snip> The very first e-commerce business was started on a dining room table
and used a data host that was in a garage. LITERALLY<>

That a 'data host' was LITERALLY in a garage neither proves or disproves
your argument (nor indeed mine)



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