Tale of Two First-time Senate Testimonies (and One More)

Testifying before a congressional committee for the first time.

Today (April 10, 2018), Mark Zuckerberg testified before a Senate committee for the first time. “His performance will be critical to the company’s future,” writes Matthew Rosenberg of the New York Times

Twenty years ago last month — on March 3, 1988 — Bill Gates made a similar first-time appearance before a Senate committee, described by the Times’ Steve Lohr as “a spirited defense of his company’s business practices…and portrayed Microsoft as the standard bearer of the nation’s high-technology economy.”

Unlike Zuckerberg, Gates, who was 42 at the time, left any corporate remorse in Seattle.

If you can recall that era, it was during the time when Microsoft was defending itself against an antitrust suit by the Justice Department and a rising chorus of criticism that it was abusing its considerable power in the marketplace.

Quote from Gates to the Senate Judiciary Committee:

“Will the United States continue its breathtaking technological advances? I believe the answer is yes — if innovation is not restricted by the government.”

Compare that quote to Zuckerberg: “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry.” Zuckerberg said. But pressed on whether Facebook should be regulated more, Zuckerberg said only the “right regulations.”

A lot has changed since March 3, 1998.

For one thing, Gates became a full-time philanthropist and seems to have become a more likable guy. And the specific sins of Microsoft that brought about that hearing — and a later settlement — seem less important considering that Microsoft wasn’t a very good creator of browser software.

But history doesn’t seem to recall all the startups Microsoft killed on its journey to becoming, well, Microsoft. Those companies could have taken us in all different kinds of journeys. Or who knows?

Zuckerberg says that regulations will be okay as long as they are the right regulations.

That’s sort of what Gates said, but without that part about regulations being okay.

And how about this for an absolutely irrelevant sidebar

It’s easy for me to recall the day Gates first testified before a congressional committee. That’s because it was my first time to testify before a congressional committee, also. And it was the same day in the same building. And yes, I wanted to leave the hearing I was in to go see the hearing that was getting the same kind of coverage Zuckerberg is getting today. There was no line waiting to get in our hearing room.

I testified before the Senate Banking Committee. (See photo below.)

I was speaking as a small business owner who couldn’t understand why a small business couldn’t earn interest on money in a checking account. At the time, banks could pay interest on individual checking accounts, but not on a business checking account.

I don’t think Bill Gates had ever heard of my issue. Frankly, not too many small business owners had either.

I’m holding that stack of papers — nice touch, huh? — to show that it was easy to “sweep” money back and forth from checking and business accounts, but the accompanying mailing and paperwork was ridiculous.

I don’t recall exactly how that issue was ever resolved but I think it had something to do with Microsoft software.

March 3, 1998, Senate Banking Committee

The Best Thing About Blogging

There are many great things about having a personal blog and consistently posting to it. And none of the great things are about trying to be a “thought leader” or personal brand. After blogging (more-or-less consistently) for 17 years, I’ve discovered that much of what I write is like jotting down a note to the future me.

RexBlog on Jan. 9, 2007

Like today. Ten years ago today, I was in San Francisco. I was on about the 20th row when Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone. Because I blog, I can go back and read what I said that day and said a few days afterward.

In the past decade, I’ve blogged tens of thousands of words about Apple products.

But there’s something great about reading what you first thought about something that later turned out to be more (or less) significant.

It makes you feel like you were clueless…or insightful. But that you had any opinion at all makes you feel connected to an event in some way.

The headline of the post where I wrote my response is, “The least impressive thing about the iPhone is that it’s a phone.”

Ten years later, I think I nailed it.

What else happened on this day, ten years ago.

Looking at other posts of the day, I see that MyBlogLog.com was going to be purchased by Yahoo. Later, that would be as disastrous as most Yahoo acquisitions were.

AppleTV was released.

While I didn’t blog about it, ten years ago today was the first time I ever used Twitter. I had set up an account a few months earlier (in the year 2006), but MacWorld was the first time I used it. Why? The media center (I had press credentials thanks to a friend in high places), encouraged reporters to follow their posts to Twitter (“tweets” didn’t exist yet) to learn about changes in the MacWorld schedule or other updates. This was back when it was far easier to understand what Twitter was (a group text messaging thingee) than it is today. (However, for months, I continued to think it was a method for PR people to distribute text messages.)

The First Photograph John T. Daniels Ever Took Was One of History’s Most Famous

David McCul a great book, but for reasons I wasn’t expecting.

I’m reading (and listening to) David McCullough’s wonderful new book, The Wright Brothers.

This isn’t a review, as I’ve only read about one-third of the book. But I’ve read enough to know that anyone who has ever has faced adversity and challenge and ridicule will recognize something familiar in the story. These brothers were from Dayton, Ohio, and funded the venture themselves. And besides, everyone know that no one would ever fly. Why? Because all of the big thinkers of the day said so.

Read more “The First Photograph John T. Daniels Ever Took Was One of History’s Most Famous”

How Millennials (Not Al Gore) Invented the Internet

Millennials don’t just use social media, they invented it. (Like Al Gore invented the internet.)

Editor’s Note

For this post, the term Millennial refers to people born between 1982 and 2004. (Math help: People who are currently (i.e., 2014) between the ages of 10 and 32.) Also, while this post refers to a golden age, NOTHING in it refers to fringe New Testament apocalyptic theology.

Introduction

During the first part of the 20th century, the french philosopher and sociologist Maurice Halbwachs advanced the idea of “collective memory” — a shared pool of information held in the memories of two or more members of a group. Or at least that’s what a group of two or more members of a group of people wrote in the Maurice Halbwachs Wikipedia entry.

Read more “How Millennials (Not Al Gore) Invented the Internet”

The History of Content Marketing: Nashville Bicycle Messenger, 1910

Nashville, November 1910. “George Christopher, Postal Telegraph messenger #7, fourteen years old. Been at it over three years. Does not work nights.”

Nashville, November 1910. “George Christopher, Postal Telegraph messenger #7, fourteen years old. Been at it over three years. Does not work nights.”

The photograph and caption are both by Lewis Wickes Hine, who took thousands of portraits of young bicycle messengers and other child laborers on behalf of the Nation Child Labor Committee at the turn of the 20th century. Hine’s photos, and the work of the committee, are credited with influencing public opinion to the degree that in 1916, Congress passed legislation protecting children: the Keating-Owen Act.

The Library of Congress photographic collections house more than five thousand original Lewis Hine photographs, given to the library by the National Child Labor Committee.

(via: Veloaficionado)