I have a couple things on my mind today. First is that I’ve been thinking alot lately about just how much the internet has changed our world in the last 10 years. Second, my time working in Europe and my frustrations.
First, I read today about Skype’s awesome-ness. And it got me thinking more about how the internet is basically taking over every communication modality that we used to experience… mail, newspaper, radio, fax, TV, movies, phone, and that’s just off the top of my head. As the article points out, soon, you maybe able to port your phone number to a skype number… meaning VoIP could really take off. As the accessibility and infrastructure of the internet scales, it is slowly replacing every single communication technology that existed. Its flexibility, low cost, and ubiquity on to different integrated platforms allows for this change to rapidly take place. For some reason, today the future is NOW thing, really just hit me. These communication patterns have already changed the world and it is so much different than it was 10 years ago, and is only increasing in change rate.
I sometimes think of my mother’s understanding of these technologies and think about what was a “correct” lifestyle. That kind of life or staying the same job, same home, blah blah, doesn’t really exist anymore as a successful model. The entire world has a cloud above it now and it’s changed what it means for corporations to exist. What it means for people to communicate and the quality of life in general.
This leads me to the second thing: working in Berlin vs. the valley. I also read this article this morning. In general, its a great summary of many of my frustrations since moving here one year ago. I have been working with Nokia for the last year on helping them redefine and rebuild their company. While the work is interesting, the goals ambitious, and people quality, I’ve really struggled with the difference in attitudes and work ethic. While culturally, I think europe is often more open and accepting to a multitude of human behaviors, there is something still quite old about some of the centralized authority models. I’ve felt little autonomy, little ability to be emotionally vested, and hence have felt very detached from anything I am doing here. In the end, it just isn’t very satisfying.
What I do… I do because I love it, I enjoy it, and I WANT to work at it and I want to be part of changing the world for the better. It’s not my job… it’s my life… and it’s mine to create. My work is a large part of that… and I enjoy what I do because it is part of who I am and a message that I want to exist long after I am here. That means, I want to produce things to the best of my ability because I believe they are valuable. I want a structure that supports this ethic, that allows me to grow, that trust and builds my own decision making. I don’t need 25 days of vacation, leaving work every day at 6pm, an “easy” job, or someone who dictates to me what I am to produce. I want autonomy, flexibility, and porous security. I WANT to work because I like it, not because I need to.
Anyways, there are still some older models here, that in the end, have been a really nice grounding lesson for me. In the end, it’s a great experience to understand where my values, ethics, and motivations lie — that I work in an ecosystem, not a company. Taking myself out of the center of this value chain and thrown into a different one has made this all much clearer to me and makes me feel lucky to have an understanding of the world through a supportive community of innovators, artists, and entrepreneurs. The valley might be a competitive place, but it’s what I know and it’s a part of who I am.