Monday, February 07, 2005

"The New New Thing" - Some Notes

Something a little different today. I've been taking notes from a biography of Jim Clark called "The New New Thing". Clark started Netscape and has made a career from figuring out how to make money from the next step in technology. I think there are many similarities between what he does and what I want to do as a scriptwriter. So these notes attempt to figuring out his thought process.

The new new thing is a notion that is poised to be taken seriously in the marketplace. It is the idea that is a tiny push away from general acceptance and, when it gets that push, will change the world.

Jim Clark couldn't see the future; he groped for it. He would be seized by some new enthusiasm and then chase it wherever it led. His SOP was that if nothing surprisingly or interesting was happening to him, he moved on until the situation corrected itself. Clark was always changing his mind. He was described as an engineer with a taste for anarchy.

He was always thinking about how to make some high-end technology accessible to a larger audience. He knew that gaining access to a mass-market meant making great sums of money. He also believed that the only way to preserve your current status was to create a monopoly. He described himself (and the reason for his winning streak) as being 'the guy who finds the new new thing and makes it happen'.

Clark's goal was to create the company that invented the future. Once he had done that, he wanted to do it again and again and again and again. For his services he wanted to be treated better, and paid more, than anyone else.

Most people don't enjoy making huge gambles on the future. They would just as soon have someone else tell them what to do. And that is what Jim Clark did.

After Netscape, Clark's starting point was how not to make millions but billions of dollars. Quickly. His play took on the intensity of work, and his work acquired the flavour of play. He designed all future large organisations without a place for himself inside. He had ceased to be a businessman and become a conceptual artist.

Jim Clark wanted to hire people he trusted rather than people the venture capitalists recommended. He was interested in finding bright people with a passion to change the way things are. To attract the smartest best people you needed to persuade them you had the new new thing.

-- I'll compile more entries on this book over the next couple of days.

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