I’ve given up some pretty cushy jobs in my career. One defining aspect of the failure of my previous marriage was my inability just accept my role, sit idly by enjoying the benefits of being a good employee in a small town. From my smalltime existence in Eugene, Oregon I saw the Internet unfold, and beginning in 2005 I saw the potential of this new breed of web services that were built on HTTP.
I saw what the Internet was going to do to our society and culture, and had a sense that it wasn’t going to be all good. With this in mind I had this nagging feeling that I had to work hard to understand these transformative technologies and approaches, study how leading companies were putting them to use. I knew I couldn’t rest until I understand, and I operated at a scale that would matter and it would be possible have a voice that could influence how we use these new technologies.
Almost ten years later, while I still feel I cannot rest, I feel like I’m finally reaching the scope in both the size of conversations, my own reputation and the global reach that I need to make an impact. At times I see the machine clearly, and find myself getting to close. I saw this as I worked in the enterprise, immersed myself within the startup culture in silicon valley, and moved to DC to work for the white house.
Each of these times when I got to close to the machines I was trying to understand, I could feel the heat, and hear the gears grinding all around me. All of these experiences have given me an understanding of how the machine works, but also how close I can get to it before I risk being consumed by the very beast I wish to understand and help influence.
I may not have the stamina and fortitude to continue for decades, but I cannot just sit idly by as technology blindly marches forward. I have to understand how it all works and push back, hoping to influence the course we take. While I’m not naive enough that I can single handedly change everything, but with persistence I can grind against the machine and slow its march into negative areas, and possibly force it to move in more positive ways, that can actually benefit society and our children’s future.