The Next Generation

I got a tweet from a bot that told me yesterday was my fifth anniversary on Twitter.


That got me thinking about how long I'd been doing the things I do every day on the Internet. And I responded with this tweet last night.



It was at age fourteen that I started going down to the West Point computer center and playing around with the mainframes they had there. It was 1975 and I was going into ninth grade. It was super cool to be able to create things on the computer. We mostly hacked up graphics stuff and crude computer games. And we didn't go often. There were only certain times of the week we could go and it was a bit of a walk from our home.

Contrast that to today. I met with about 140 eighth graders yesterday at one of our Academy For Software Engineering open houses. These kids don't have to walk a mile to a computer center that is only open to them a few hours a week in order to hack around. They have laptops in their schools and many of them have laptops at home.

When I meet with these eighth graders I like to ask them "if you had the coding skills to build anything, what would you build?" The answers are inspiring. One young man told me he wanted to build a better operating system. He was going to fork a version of linux and do just that. 



Another eighth grader said he wanted to build a better social network, one that was based on the things that interested him and one that would connect him with kids around the world that were interested in the same things.

The girls in the room were full of ideas as well. They haven't yet reached the age when they are told they shouldn't be software engineers. I hope they can become accomplished software engineers before anyone tells them that.

These eighth graders were mostly born in 1998. They are the same age as Google. They have never known a world without a browser, a search engine, and a way to connect instantly to people on the Internet. They expect things to work a certain way and when they don't, they want to fix them. They are hackers by default.

If there is anything I've learned in the past few weeks as I've met between five hundred and a thousand eighth graders throughout the NYC public school system, it is that computers and the Internet are front and center in this generation's brain regardless of upbringing.

I suspect that is because this next generation has had access to computers in a way that preceding generations did not. As the cost and form factor of powerful computers comes down, computing reaches a broader segment of the population of America and eventually the world. And it is human nature to want to understand, control, and fix the things that you use every day.

So hacker culture is spreading from those with means to a much broader population. And this is happening on a global scale. It's impossible to comprehend what the result of this shift will be. But I think it's going to be transformative in many ways.

#hacking education#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. Rohan

    Nice timing, and nice post! Loved it. I was thinking about education yesterday for the next generation. I think we have reached a point where we have an abundance of great tools. What needs to follow next is for the system to adapt itself to make use of these tools rather than be the dinosaur. And these are my predictions for the way learning will be done..— Energy will be THE focus . We will move away from time management and focus on energy management. We will understand how to think of a day in terms of our energy instead of thinking of a day in terms of time.- How I work will take precedence over how stuff works. This is where the magic lies. Education will be reshaped to help us understand how WE work and focus less on how stuff works.- Focus on ‘different’ versus ‘intelligent’. The easy option is to look at a person and judge them as intelligent or not. That’s how we’re schooled. And we automatically do the same for ourselves (surprise surprise). The issue, of course, is that we are extremely hard when it comes to judging ourselves.We will begin to focus on understanding our different gifts. We are already beginning to see this. Susan Cain gave a powerful talk on the power of introverts. The principles in her talk are right out of Myers Briggs, who was just way ahead of her time. Again, it links back to understanding how we get our energy and how we work.- A Learning a Day or Fluid Mindset. There are already many studied being made on mindset. What we are learning now is that our intelligence is NOT fixed. The more we do, the more we can do. The more we can do, the better we will start doing what we already do. Maximizing our potential and being the best we can be will be our focus.I am obviously optimistic when I call that ‘a learning a day’ but it is something I envision will be taught in schools. Kids need to realize that they only get better. It took me 19 years to understand that and then a couple more years to understand that I must stop judging myself harshly. It’s all about figuring out how we work and that’s hard enough. We learn as we go. We fail a lot. But, thank god for that because the more we fail, the smarter we get.This is the future in my eyes. It is not going to be easy to make these systemic changes. We are going to face a lot of resistance. That’s life though.On the bright side, change is the only constant thing in this world. The dinosaurs go away and the world moves on.It’s only a matter of time.The future is bright.From (…–Have a great Sunday! And I think this is my longest comment here, yet.. haha

    1. Michael Elling

      What parent knows the answer when a 4 year old asks why the sky is blue, or why the leaves fall.  So much can be learned (by us adults) by focusing on the natural sciences at the earliest ages. The result is greater awareness of how humans impact the environment (ie energy and natural resource consumption).  As we learn about natural balances, we learn about balance in and between ourselves.  Listen to The Trees by Rush.

      1. Rohan

        Nicely put..A slightly different view to your 1st line.The answers don’t matter. Encouraging the process of question does!… 

    2. JimHirshfield

      Susan Cain link?

        1. kidmercury

          yeah i liked that susan cain talk……introverts ftw!

          1. Rohan

            Kid. Just a nudge here.Sent you an email. Just making sure it hasn’t ended up in your spam?

  2. Raymond K

    Great post! I think an important factor is access to technology. Yes, some youths do play around with Linux, but what often happens is that children are offered systems that are locked down and walled gardens (iOS). Some of them will still learn to play around with the technology, while others will want to be obedient citizens and not do something the company didn’t intend for them to do.Must be really inspiring for you to meet all these youths and feel their enthusiasm. Thank you for sharing the enthusiasm with us.

    1. fredwilson

      saw that. he’s right.

      1. Brad Lindenberg

        Such a good article. I wrote something very similar last month on my blog. I’m in Australia and we have a lot of natural resources here. At the end of the day:Rocks are finite, knowledge is not.They will eventually run out. Then what?… 

    2. William Mougayar

      Great line from it, paraphrasing “Mine the people, not the land”

      1. ShanaC

        That sounds depressing.  I’m not just a resource, I have personhood.Marx had a great point which I think digitalization may make us fail to realize (again)I’m something with value outside of work.Mine people – fehChange Work – yay

        1. Emily Merkle

          resource here. 

          1. ShanaC

            Could you expand on that?

          2. Emily Merkle

            drill baby drill 

          3. Emily Merkle

            A mental riff on “I’m not just a resource, I have personhood”. I am myself a resource but see being a resource as not limiting, or delimiting, my person-ness. I am a resource in my entirety. In spite of – or because of – my personhood.

        2. Emily Merkle

          ok go

        3. William Mougayar

          But you live in the USA where there are plenty of opportunities for anybody. Other countries aren’t like that, and they have to work on mining their human resources potential so that opportunities can emerge.

    3. Luke Chamberlin

      Interesting premise but Friedman should know better than to conflate correlation with causation. There are many other explanations for the correlation shown between natural resources and education.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        This is likely the first Friedman piece that didn’t cause me to yell and scream with outrage. Still there is a lot in that piece I would object to.But it’s possible, although not clear from Friedman, to defend what he did with the correlation.Yes, getting a causation would be nice; it is also rare.But there is a middle ground! We can take what Friedman wrote, that a resource rich country has a problem getting rich, as a hypothesis. Then we can test this hypothesis: IF the hypothesis is true, then there should be a correlation much as he described. So, if there is no “significant” correlation, then we reject the hypothesis.Well, in the case of Friedman’s column and hypothesis, with the correlation we don’t reject the hypothesis. So the hypothesis passes the test.Does passing the test “prove” the hypothesis? No. But, with this methodology of testing, we can keep testing a hypothesis, maybe not reject it, never really prove it, maybe reject all competing hypotheses we can think of, and maybe eventually start to accept the hypothesis at least provisionally. Or we just get tired of looking and, thus, give up on finding a test that would reject the hypothesis.Note: If we automate such a search, as in data mining of big data, then we have some more statistics to pay attention to or run a risk of being fooled just by artifacts of our search!Related idea — magic stock market coin! I have a magic coin that predicts the stock market! I flip the coin. Heads means the market will go up, and Tails, down. So to prove the power of this coin, send ads to 2048 people saying that the coin says that the market will go up next week and ads to another 2048 people saying that the market will go down. Next week, for the 2048 people that got correct predictions, send predictions of up the next week to 1024 people and down to the other 1024. Continue in this way. When get down to 128 or 64 or some such people, offer subscriptions to the results of this wonderful coin for $10,000 a week.Yes, that we have a test that has failed to reject a hypothesis might just mean that the test was weak! That’s a common situation in the news: Come up with a silly hypothesis and results from a weak test, observe that the test did not reject the hypothesis, and then claim that the silly hypothesis has been proved. A weak test? Sure: Flip a coin 20 times. If get Heads all 20 times, then reject the hypothesis and otherwise regard it as PROVED!!! This test is weak because it is independent of anything about the hypothesis and is a special case of a trivial test in the mathematical statistics of hypothesis testing (E. Lehmann). Some people may be able to make money doing trivial tests!Yes, Friedman said he had “proof” — that’s Friedman again, and one more place where I would yell and scream at him.Mostly I take Friedman’s column as just his desire to promote some of his usual themes: (1) Have the US spend more money on K-12 education. (2) Have the US regard oil as evil. (3) More generally, have the US deliberately not develop its natural resources (doing so would rot our brains and make us poor!). (4) Appeal to an ascetic ethic that says that suffering is good (did Friedman really let the temperature of his house fall to, say, 40 F this winter?). (5) Say that instead of oil the US should have clean, green, pure, pristine, sustainable, renewable, 100% all-natural (like orange juice) energy. (6) Push a morality play that “consumption”, especially of natural resources, in particular oil, is sinful. (7) And, finally, lead up to his favorite morality play that CO2 from human activity is destroying the delicate, sensitive environment, causing devastating global warming, or, since that has been late in coming, climate change as in all those tornadoes; he wants a trilogy of transgression from CO2, retribution of environmental destruction, and redemption via sacrifice and NY houses at 40 F in the winter and 90 F in the summer. I don’t much agree with Friedman.For Friedman’s emphasis on books and learning, I’ll match him on technical SAT and GRE scores, peer reviewed papers of original research in technical subjects, other technical accomplishments, and personal professional library anytime, for money, marbles, or chalk.Still I believe that the US should have wide, deep, rapidly flowing oceans of cheap, domestically produced energy, from what we know how to do now and from what we can figure out how to do ASAP, and strongly disagree with nearly everything Friedman writes and says. In particular, he should not be talking about K-12 education when he said, as he did on a talk show, that CO2 heats the earth because it absorbs light from the sun. No, Tom, in that case CO2 would be visible which it is not. Instead, CO2 absorbs in three narrow bands, one for each of twisting, stretching, and bending of the molecule, out in the infrared, and the infrared is from essentially Planck black body radiation from the surface of the earth. Sorry, Tom.Net, hypothesis testing, sometimes with correlation, is weak but doable; causality is strong but rare!

        1. Mark Essel

          Classic sigma comment gold. Much Enjoyed this post.

          1. Emily Merkle

            classic. you can see but cannot tell.

        2. kidmercury

          the oil as immoral argument is the worst, a completely uneducated argument. i’m tempted to stoop to their level and cast them as immoral. 

          1. Emily Merkle

            just cast already

  3. awaldstein

    A while back there was some data that approx 50% of the jobs people are working at today, didn’t exist when they were born.That will most likely continue to be true. This is nothing but goodness to me. 

    1. Michael Elling

      US’ multiculturalism paves the way to knew ideas, beliefs, etc…  That’s the biggest problem in Europe and inability for the youth to have and/or get jobs.  Just this morning Mauldin wrote about Northern European states demanding that the Southern states shut down their border to immigration.

    2. Sander Bijlstra

      That’s not necessarily a good thing. I think it means we’re framing jobs the wrong way lately. Though skills vary and change, the roles in afirm don’t change that much. Education should be about critical thought and meta skills; problem solving, structuring, group decision making.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        You are assuming that work structures will remain the same.  (Fred had an interesting post about work markets a few days back –> )But I agree with you that jobs — and I would add “work” — may need to be framed differently.  Most job structure is reactive rather than proactive.  Not always a lot of thought given to the architecture and design of jobs.

  4. Seth Godin

    About a hundred years ago, just about everyone got access to a paintbrush. The ability to put oil on canvas wasn’t reserved for just a few…What followed wasn’t an explosion in fine art, because most people chose to paint by numbers. They dreamed small dreams.I’m incredibly optimistic about how much power we’re putting into the hands of a new generation of coders. I just hope somewhere along the way we don’t kill their dreams.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s the tough part. i don’t have any good answers to that one.

      1. Seth Godin

         PS I sent my first email in 1976, when I was 16.If I had been better informed, I would have sent it to you.

        1. Emily Merkle

          you still can

        2. fredwilson

          i got the one that mattered 🙂

        3. ShanaC

          Who did you send it to?

      2. Emily Merkle

        do so staff of justice 

    2. William Mougayar

      But it’s up to the current generation to sheppard their success and minimize these potential failures.

      1. Emily Merkle

        it takes a village

        1. William Mougayar

          Very true.

      2. Emily Merkle

        one p

    3. Emily Merkle

      Impossible. Optimism lives.

    4. andyswan

      They seem to do a pretty good job of killing their own dreams with videogames, carbs and apathy.

      1. William Mougayar

        Back to parenting where part of the responsibility lies.

        1. Emily Merkle

          please leave the breeders alone. we are all parents.

        2. andyswan

          you misspelled “97%” as “part”

          1. William Mougayar

            I’m with you. Was being conservative. I’ll top it to 98%.

      2. Dave W Baldwin

        On that note, it is up to the industry.  And don’t take the blame part too far since all parents of all generations would get the kids whichever toy to amuse the kids while the adults focused on something else. The time frame where kids worked with their parent(s) on a project, like rural last century, was an enrichment for all due to sharing of idea.Back to industry, remember you had those clowns encouraging the ‘new’ language of texting (total bullshit) and its part in evolution.  Less than 3 years later people are beginning to interface orally with machine requiring pronunciation vs. mumbling.On the carb and apathy, you’re right… but Sloth, Envy and Vanity have been around for a long time.

      3. Carl J. Mistlebauer

        Is it that “video games, carbs and apathy” kills dreams or is it that those who have no dreams or ambition gravitate to video games, carbs, and apathy?

    5. Mark Essel

      It’s not the objective quality of paintings that matter as much as the subjective experience of creating. I know you’re a fellow fan of Kevin Kelly’s, and I’d wager he’d describe the growth of options and choice brought on by technology as a good change.There will likely always be systems of control, encouraging “color by numbers”. Yet even if one individual breaks out of that tunnel the character of painting is noble. A flood follows a curious trickle.A generation of literate (native) developers opens the door to greater choice and freedom.

      1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

        From someone who cannot draw a straight line and as a child I had my share of paint by number sets, let me say that my inability to be artistic, in any shape or form, did create an appreciation for those who can and better yet it developed a desire to create….I do like to think that some of the programs I have implemented have quite a creative flair!  🙂

        1. Donna Brewington White

          You can be creative without being artistic.I’m still pondering whether you can be artistic without being creative.  I’m leaning toward yes.  I happen to know artists in almost every realm of artistic endeavor.  Stunningly creative in their crafts, but not necessarily in their lives…or in solving problems.

          1. Mark Essel

            This may be an example leaning towards being artistic without being creative. The artist isn’t inventing anything, he’s recreating a photo-realistic view of a helicopter fly by of Rome.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            Freaking astonishing!

        2. Mark Essel

          Count me among the non-artistic creative cluster. Many of those ideas find homes in simple prototypes (not quite alphas). Each week I make a little progress improving my craft.

    6. Dave W Baldwin

      @fredwilson:disqus We are in a transition phase where the kids are left with rigid subject matter in schools.  For example, History is boring and force fed to the point that it is assumed no one will do something better than what was done 100+ years back.  That stifles creativity more than the fact some kids just can’t draw.On the hacking side, you have kids that know a little more than their parents, talk fast and say gibberish… then are told they are computer brilliant.  Yet, the only thing they can do is hack into one thing and otherwise wouldn’t have a clue on doing something more useful.No matter what, expanding the options and moving downt he ladder of age brackets will produce better art/tech/collaboration.

      1. ShanaC

        O_o History is boring?!

        1. Emily Merkle

          Ugly outfits.

          1. ShanaC

            says you – I would wear a gown from the revolutionary war period

          2. Dave W Baldwin

            Remember though, you would look great in that outfit because you’d know what to do with it…

          3. ShanaC

            Hmm, its more the figure than knowing what to do with it, as soon as I start moving you’d see how awkward I was in it…

        2. Dave W Baldwin

          I mean that via POV of avg student.There is a way to make it better… just give it a little time  😉

          1. Ryan Tanaka

            If the teacher knows their stuff, it shouldn’t be too difficult to make it interesting…history repeats itself, after all, and we’re all living it in now.

          2. Dave W Baldwin

            True and easy answer.  Unfortunately, if 20% of your students can’t read, 10% belong in jail and 50% were up until 3am on social graphs and playing video games, you won’t get too far.So you have to teach to the test.

          3. Luke Chamberlin

            I spent most of high school playing video games past midnight and I’m doing just fine thank you!

          4. ShanaC

            I think we have bigger problems if we think 10% belong in jail……

          5. Ryan Tanaka

            Yeah, those are the things that make teaching hard.  But the clashes between education and the kids’ needs are a result of over-standardization that was a result of our mass produced culture.  History goes back and forth between universalization and the emphasis on the individual, and we’re seeing a shift towards the latter right now, fueled by technology.  Guess the term people in the tech sector would use is “localization”.  Sure what’s happening now is “new”, but history can help to mitigate some of that uncertainty by pointing out parallel situations to the present.  And it’s only if you can attach relevance to the students would they ever get interested in the subject to begin with.Have you played games like Civilization, Spore, or Fallout?  Some games can have great potential for educational use.

          6. Koslow

            When the school challenges students to create something fun/interesting/new with people, places and events from history they will learn it and they will love it. HackingHistory

          7. Dave W Baldwin

            You are right. The bonus to achieving that would be critical thinking.

          8. ShanaC

            Of course! I’m just surprised by the comment that it is boring in the first place.

        3. LE

          History the way it is taught in school is generally boring.…(I was trying to find the clip where Spicoli (Sean Penn) talks passes his history test and it’s funny how his delivery shows that it is possible to put some effort into teaching something that people will remember and find enjoyable.You watch the things you watch on TV/Movies and enjoy the things that you enjoy in person because of the attention to detail in providing a quality experience as well as the feedback loop. Mostly missing missing from education.  Analyze the amount of effort that goes into producing mass media (which has the attention of people and is extremely influential) which exists in a sink or swim environment compared to a typical school system which has a monopoly and no reason to really change anything.Sure there is the testing feedback loop but that has a bias towards people that are able to get over the poor delivery of many teaches and have a good memory.  It’s catering to a market that can’t leave and easily change to other alternatives. It’s certainly not sink or swim. And yes, history is force fed to students. Is it really important to know the exact date/month that a war started in the 1800’s or the particular name of the general that won or lost the war? Or more important to learn and remember general concepts that can be applied in other situations?

          1. ShanaC

            No, but its really important to note the thematic constants in history and learn from them. Like how europe is split down the center by language and religion lines.

      2. Emily Merkle

        options = good

        1. Dave W Baldwin

          but of course…

      3. Brad Lindenberg

        I agree. The school curriculum’s need to adapt. I finished in 2001 (in Australia) and managed to squeeze in 6 units (of 12) worth of computing subjects plus maths, english and business studies as my final 2 years of electives. So 2/3 of my studies in the years that mattered, were computing and business. Because that is what I was interested in. I’ve never drawn upon any knowledge from history or foreign language classes however I use the knowledge from my computing and business classes every single day. I went on to University to study BIT (Bachelor Of Information Tech).Students should be able to learn what they are interested in and not be forced to learn what they are not interested in… 

        1. Dave W Baldwin

          You were able to do that and I bet you were already ahead of the curve in Math.But think of the kids that fall behind in Junior High going into whichever ‘Intro’ or call do Algebra A or B… they have to get to Geometry and Alg II before Trig.Otherwise, the Freshman year in college is an eye opener.Then you add in whichever AP courses they are placed in Junior/Senior year when they might not really know which way they want to go…I wasn’t trying to down play History like some may have taken it (not you)… just stating it is boring to many.

          1. Brad Lindenberg

            I think this comes down to vision. I’ve always been quite certain what I want to do. I knew I wanted to take those subjects. I knew I wanted to study BIT/CompSci, I knew I wanted to take the entrepreneurial route. That is half the battle won. The rest is execution. So many young people don’t know what they want to do when they finish school and spend time trying to figure it out. 

          2. Dave W Baldwin

            You’re right.  Looks to me like you’re going to do some big things!

        2. Ben Apple

          Good thought, but how many people know what they’re interested in when they’re 15 years old…  Education should definitely evolve but you can’t just take kids who want to study computers and have them skip over everything else.  You have to give students a well rounded education and the chance to be inspired. 

          1. Brad Lindenberg

            I agree… And most kids take time to figure it out. That is normal. But kids who know where they want to go at an early age should be able to take that path and accelerate their knowledge in that area. That is why the Software Academy that Fred is setting up is so good. There are schools set up for students who want to become actors or musicians from an early age. I view the software academy as a similar initiative. Like what Steve Jobs says – he dropped out of Uni and dropped into the classes he was actually interested in. Calligraphy, typography etc… 😛

        3. Donna Brewington White

          “Students should be able to learn what they are interested in and not be forced to learn what they are not interested in…” That statement comes out of an understanding or belief about the purpose of education.  What do you think that purpose is?

          1. Ryan Tanaka

             “Enrichment” vs. Job Skills has been the main dichotomy in regards to education, especially in higher-ed.  It’s tipping toward the latter’s favor because of the economy right now.  (It’s hard to argue for “well-roundedness” when you can’t even pay rent.)When the economy improves, it’ll start going back the other way, I’m pretty sure.  Everyone needs a little bit of both to be in higher level positions, but economic conditions tends to nudge institutions to move toward certain directions.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            Good distinction.Pragmatically, I get that.  I don’t like it, but I get it. 

          3. Ryan Tanaka

            Science and technology gives us the means to live longer, more prosperous lives — but for what purpose do we want to extend our time on this world to begin with?  Those are the questions the humanities and arts attempt to answer, but it’s a very different skill than one of “problem solving”, which engineers tend to be more adept at.Entrepreneurship is hard because it forces you to confront both sides of the spectrum.  I come from the other end where there’s often too much “meaning” but not enough execution, but a lot of engineers find out the hard way that execution alone isn’t enough to inspire people to buy your product.

      4. Donna Brewington White

        Ignorance of history means someone is more likely to repeat it.

        1. Dave W Baldwin

          You’re right.  The statement above is pointed at the average High School kid. 

          1. Donna Brewington White

            Dave — I think I took your comment out of context.  Sorry about that.  I get stirred up over the idea of educating strictly for utilitarian purposes and somehow read your comment as saying that teaching history isn’t important — and I should know better given all the other things I’ve heard you say over time. 

          2. Dave W Baldwin

            Don’t worry about it.  I think there is a better way to teach history and hope to lay that out in the near future. 

    7. Angela Min

      Agreed. While skills and tools are one thing, the ability to apply those tools within a global context, is another. One thing that never changes over the course of humanity, is the need to put things into context. Those who can – by might or right and for better or worse – tended to be the ones who ruled the rest of us. Things have changed however, and the ability for mere commonfolks such as myself, to contextual ourselves outside our immediate circle, has increased exponentially with technology advances such as the internet. I wonder therefore, if the comparison to the tools of 100 years ago, is an apt comparison, since canvases dont’ scale :)I tend to believe in the well-worn adage that “the medium is the message”. There is something a bit introspective and singular about tools such as paint-and-canvas, whereas there is something inherently collaborative about the internet (hence, the SOPA debate). Unlike any other communicative tool preceding this one (the printing press, Missionaries, ships discovering new lands, the Industrial Revolution, television, etc), the medium of the internet has nearly obliterated the barriers of entry, to communicate. I think we have yet to realize what can be dreamed – and accomplished – when the ripple effects continue to unfold and reach people who have heretofore, never before been given a voice, or do more than paint-by-the-numbers. I find that thought, incredibly inspiring.

      1. Emily Merkle

        no voices handed out speaking up

    8. LE

      “About a hundred years ago, just about everyone got access to a paintbrush.””What followed wasn’t an explosion in fine art,”Who can forget what happened with typography (both positive and negative) when people could create their own flyers using Mac Paint on the first Macintosh. (Office managers made up things that looked like ransom notes.)

    9. sigmaalgebra

      Of course my view is that what is crucial for those coders and their dreams is the work prior to the coding that the coding just implements.  Sometimes still the coding can implement just something that we already understand and in principle could do manually. Otherwise it is common to try various heuristics, but I’m not very optimistic about those. For more, may I have the envelope, please? Thank you. Here it is: One key to powerful, valuable work prior to coding is original work in applied math (alas, I’m not talking K-college here).For more, we might be able to get some benefit from going up scale in our computing architecture to make it easier for us to make use of many more cores, processors, servers, etc. Or, in simple terms we might borrow from the industrial revolution and have people managing computers managing computers, …, several levels deep, managing computers doing the work.Or, now mostly the information flows from a person to a computer to a computer and back to a person. We need more of the flows computer to computer so that computers can be doing more of the work.The issues for such an architecture are being chipped away at but so far only slowly and, apparently, without an objective on the horizon. But apparently we can have server farms with thousands of computers with each computer with a processor with 1000 cores, main memory of several trillion bytes, and locally connected mass storage of a petabyte or so. So, we need to do some thinking at that level.

    10. leigh

      I think it’s important to remember that the revolutionaries were often the painters, the poets and the intellectuals.  It’s why they were often the first to be thrown into prison or executed.  While access doesn’t mean EVERYONE will become revolutionaries or change the world it does mean that ANYONE has the opportunity to do so.  That in of itself is the revolution and we are only beginning to see the potential of it.

  5. William Mougayar

    This SURPLUS in software skills is definitely a breeding ground for innovation growth. I wished it would take care of the fiscal DEFICIT.This is the Information Economy unraveling under our eyes.

    1. Emily Merkle

      Economics is dead. Long live economics.

    2. Michael Elling

      Unraveling?  Rather raveling.  America was in turmoil in the late 70s/early 80s on the international front.  Then we broke up AT&T (thanks Bill McGowan) and digitized faster and sooner than others, giving rise to mighty software ships that led to our global resurgence, much like our multiculturalism lead to the media that everybody enjoyed and carried America’s brand farther and faster than any military conquest could have in the early to mid 1900s.  My friend who has lived in Asia tells me that America’s influence is more pervasive in Singapore now than 15 years ago when she lived there last.   The pace of innovation and change today in this country is mindboggling, and much like KM bangs the 9-11 and deficit drums, I bang the bandwidth drum on this blog.  Bandwidth is 15-20x more expensive than it should be and that will have a direct impact on the pace of change and ROI from all the VC investment in the upper layers. Wake up to the resurgent bandwidth monopolies and focus some attention on applying capital and innovation to the lower layers.

      1. William Mougayar

        The plot thickens

        1. Emily Merkle

          as plots are wont to do

      2. Emily Merkle

        Fareed is Not Bad Just Misunderstood – watch all the news.

  6. kidmercury

    well let’s hope these kids actually get a chance to actualize their dreams. the 15.4 trillion in debt they are inheriting (and that’s just the US, other countries have their own preposterous debt burden) will create significant obstacles until it is dealt with.  ” As the cost and form factor of powerful computers comes down, computing reaches a broader segment of the population of America and eventually the world “i think it is the other way around, africa has the solar powered netbooks selling for under $100 and a wireless first infrastructure — as well as some of the fastest growing economies in the world. it will start with the poor people and swim up, disruption style. thankfully, the days of trickle down are coming to an end. and i think that is what will truly save the next generation.  9/11 was an inside job,kid mercury

    1. Emily Merkle

      plugging in the printer..

    2. leapy

      It’s no coincidence that this will run alongside the cleaning up of African political life.

      1. kidmercury

        Absolutely, I am looking forward to seeing how that develops as I think there may be trends there that eventually spread to other parts of the world

  7. Matt A. Myers

    ‘”I want to build a better operating system”‘To be honest, he likely has been stuck using Windows most of his life. 😉

    1. ShanaC

      I’m odd – because of the kinect I’m looking forward to the future of windows…

      1. Matt A. Myers

        The concept of Kinect won’t be exclusive to Windows, however it’ll help to have resources put behind it. I’m hoping there’s a good open source option that develops, though I’m sure there will be some ridiculous patent battles.Reminds me of how someone owns the patent to cup sleeves … you know, those cardboard sleeves that you slide over a cup when it’s hot…. (instead of using another whole cup) … someone makes money off of each one …

        1. ShanaC

          Why can’t Microsoft from a business perspective make it exclusive to windows, or develop the killer app for a windows platform (or is someone else doing that now?)

        2. Edward Kim

          I think Microsoft is sitting on a gold mine of new computing functionality with Kinect.  I just don’t have much faith in Microsoft anymore. The pessimist in me thinks they’re going to take the easy road and license the technology at a high cost, which means worse products in market.I hope they prove me wrong and come out with some kickass Windows integration soon.

          1. george

            I agree, Microsoft has a real edge with Kinect, which they could scale beyond gaming; you make a great point!My opinion, open systems require great collaboration and that worked well in the past, in a period when companies were more specialized and rarely crossed over to compete in each others markets. As you point out, better integration is needed. 

    2. Brad Lindenberg

      Steve Jobs was famous for saying “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”.The fact is that the naivety of an 8th grader makes them foolish – and it’s this foolishness that breeds the optimism that can lead to the creation of something radically different and better. Good luck to him. 

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Indeed. Worse case scenario then too that this drives him to learn something indepth that he can use for something else.Great luck to him!

  8. andyswan

    We are, without question, in a development SHORTAGE right now.  I think what Fred is seeing and saying is right on….and we’ll be in a development SURPLUS soon.BUT, that doesn’t mean it’ll be transformative.  It could mean a surplus of young people that know how to code what they’re told.  The typists of the 21st century.  The most important thing to teach young people is an optimistic, vision-based approach to life/business… and a full understanding of the supremacy of individual thinking and action.  I touch on this a bit in my last post, which encourages us all to think long-term, and focus on building businesses for clients, rather than apps for “users”.  p.s.  They’re all fat.  p.p.s Get off my lawn!

    1. fredwilson

      “the typists of the 21st century”spot on andythat already exists in parts of the world where outsourcing has taken off

      1. Richard

        “translators” more than “typists” ?

    2. ShanaC

      Don’t knock the typists – look at what happened to Peggy on Mad Men…

      1. sigmaalgebra

        I only watched the first 3-4 episodes and refused to watch again.  I thought that the pretty wife was a dream but treated like dirt.  For treating her like dirt, her husband was an IDIOT. For the typist, you would have to explain to me what happened to her!

        1. ShanaC

          By the end of the 4th season, she’s now the most senior copywriter. The only person with more seniority is Don

          1. Emily Merkle

            seniority is lame.

    3. Druce

      I’d like to think so, because it would mean a large proportion of the population has the ability to think logically and rigorously and build good mental models.Even in good schools the larger percentage of people struggle and never really ‘get’ programming. Hell, a surprising number of the people who work in IT seem to not really have a clear mental model of how the computer works, they just click stuff til it seems to work.(Never mind the logic/mental model of Senators who say global warming can’t happen because the Bible says God makes the climate, or the presidential candidates who think college is elitist. Where do I pick up my membership card in the ancient order of the get-off-my-lawnerific?)

      1. andyswan

        Global warming has been happening since glaciers covered Chicago.

    4. ErikSchwartz

      Right now there is a conflation between programmers and engineers. They are not the same. Very few programmers understand engineering. They know their tools, they know how to manipulate them. But that makes you a mechanic, not an engineer. Programming is the currently hot tool of engineering.Engineering is the art of abstracting a problem to its essence then solving the essence of the problem.

    5. Brad Lindenberg

      I think there is a big difference between being able to code, and being able to deliver on a vision.That is the difference between a product manager and a developer.That is why product managers end up becoming CEO’s.Is vision something that can be taught or bought? 

      1. andyswan

        It can be taught, by parents. Very early in the process of learning how to learn.

    6. Donna Brewington White

      Yeah, a drone who knows how to code is still a drone.  

    7. Mark Essel

      I don’t perceive a surplus of development so much as a shift in that nearly everyone will have some level of developer skills in the next 50 years.

  9. William Mougayar

    The Golden Years of the Information Age are yet to come.

    1. sigmaalgebra

      One crucial key to higher productivity is automation, and the key to that is computing.  So, those “Golden Years” we darned well better make come or our increases in productivity will be sickingly slow.

  10. pointsnfigures

    An economics professor told me once it takes thirty years for generational change to take hold and cause efficiency.  Electricity, steam engines, the printing press, cars, all took about thirty years give or take a few.  Why would the internet be different?  Take the metrics you gave, it’s been 36 yrs since the broad based invention….and only 23 since email.  We have a few years to go before we truly see how innovative and intertwined the internet will be in our lives.

    1. Richard

      technology follows an acclerating adoption rate. Plot any technology and look at the time it takes to reach 50 million users.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        First cut dynamics of adoption:  For time t, let y(t) be the fraction at time t of eventual adoption, and let y'(t), the calculus first derivative, be the rate of adoption at time t.  Then from virality or some such assume that the rate of adoption is proportional both to the current fraction of adoption and the current fraction of adoption yet to occur. Then for some constant ky'(t) = k y(t) (1 – y(t))So that is an initial value problem for an ordinary differential equation. There is a closed form solution (in exponentials, a little awkward to type but routine from calculus via integration by parts). Yes, the solution rises slowly, then quickly, and then slowly as it approaches 1.Here’s the solution:y(t) = y(0) e^(kt) / ( y(0) (e^(kt) – 1) + 1 )where, from Google, e = 2.71828183.So, the only issue across technologies, virality, etc. is the constant k.Several technologies of the past, e.g., TV, followed the solution well enough for some k.Then for any technology, for a first cut on adoption projection, work to find a suitable value for k and then look at the curve.

        1. Richard

          Is the last equation correct?

          1. Emily Merkle

            it is the purest form of austerity.

          2. sigmaalgebra

            Either Google’s or mine, yes, I’m fairly sure both are correct.I have the derivation, with some sample graphs, in a nice paper in Knuth’s TeX with output in PDF. The paper has the derivations in full detail and then substitutes the solution into the original differential equation and shows that the solution satisfies the differential equation.If you’d like a copy of the paper and have a way to get your e-mail address to me, then I’ll send you the PDF.

          3. Emily Merkle


    2. fredwilson

      that’s a great point

  11. laurie kalmanson

    mom, tell me about the olden days when the phone was attached to the wall and the computer in the basement at school didn’t have a screen and it printed on paper with green and white stripes and you had to stack up the albums on the record player

    1. Dave W Baldwin

      ….and you drove mom nuts when you put the High Voltage LP on top of whichever Mitch Miller and The Gang…..

      1. laurie kalmanson

         and you had a transister radio that you carried with you to listen to the mets win the world series in 1969

        1. Dave W Baldwin

          The buds on this side of the river follow the Cardinals…..  ;)What is cool and creative about that is not many years before, announcers like Reagan had to do the radio broadcast away from the stadium utilizing info from paper and doing sound effects sounding like they were in a booth at the stadium.

          1. laurie kalmanson

             i lived in chicago during harry caray’s reign; it was awesome…

          2. Emily Merkle


    2. Emily Merkle

      we never had a basement but wanted one. phone calls were dramatic and annoying and respond in time. there were diamonds on the soles of her shoes.

  12. Ryan Tanaka

    “They expect things to work a certain way and when they don’t, they want to fix them.”This is probably what excites me the most — a cultural emphasis on problem solving. Things can only get better if this mindset becomes the norm.

    1. Emily Merkle

      construction v. destruction

      1. Ryan Tanaka

        Most problems require a destruction of something — usually the thing that’s causing the problem.  “Creative destruction” is a term that tech industry leaders use to talk about what they’re doing.

        1. Emily Merkle

          can it be the case that a problem exists in a vacuum/in the absence of anything to tear down? would that too be creative “destruction” – or just creativity? I second your excitement over an emphasis on problem solving!

  13. ShanaC

    As crazy as it sounds, I’m not impressed with their comments – they don’t want to fix the computer per say (though the OS kid sounds like he might), they want to fix the experiences they are having now with the computers they have now, not thinking about the experiences they could be having with computers in the future.Big question: what if computers now are going to be nothing like computers later?  Like what if we have biocomputers tomorrow that we can make cheaply in nanometer sizes? How do you user them?  How do I interact with them – that would drastically change parts of what they are offering as experiences they want to move ahead.Maybe they need to read more sc i-fi 🙂

  14. Richard

    We all seem to be on a common theme. The  issue will be whether the skills of a talented coder will gateway and correlate to the skills of a computer scientist/engineer. I agree with the comments that the supply of coders will overtime match that of the demand.  My guess is that in 20 years the coders job will be automated. The computer will essentially program apps itself. Youll tell the computer that you want application x with features a,b,c and it will crawl the web for code or generate it on its own. 

    1. Emily Merkle

      Your Tax Dollars At Work.

    2. Emily Merkle

      Fundamental differences in correlation and causation.

  15. Angela Min

    I just love this post. As mother to a 5 year old, I wonder about these things a lot. What do our children aspire to build and create? That’s an inspiring question we, as their parents, should ask ourselves, everyday. To children, anything is possible and as their parents, we should do our best to create an environment, and the tools, that will nurture and encourage them to go on and indeed, create whatever they can imagine, and never stop dreaming. 🙂

  16. Luke Chamberlin

    Eighth grader’s dream is to fork linux. I’m also very impressed!

    1. Emily Merkle

      spoons are better

  17. ErikSchwartz

    Didn’t you have an Athena account more than 23 years ago?

    1. fredwilson

      yes but i didn’t use it

      1. Emily Merkle

        access does not imply use. access is open. use is too. you know this.

  18. invisible man

    Happy Anniversary, Fred! An important concept for young people: to understand the necessity of an Internet free of Censorship. It would be nice to see an online video game (like the HeyZap 404 Page game) that visually replicates the real battle we all face with the Censorship Zombies. Even eighth graders could join in and decide which side they want to be on. Sign up as a Freedom Fighter to fight Censorship or sign up as a Censorship Zombie. To put some teeth into the game – when Censorship Legislation rears it’s ugly head Freedom Fighters everywhere could be notified to participate in a “stay at home strike” designed to shut down the economy. In an offensive move the Freedom Fighters could also work toward recapturing the Purse Strings from the Washington Power Brokers who stole it from us through the unconstitutional 16th Amendment. If we could get the Purse Strings back – We the People could do more than just put a “ding” into the Censorship Zombies efforts – we could really shut down the economy. Then the Zombies might listen and our kids could see and understand the battles they face in the future. 

    1. Emily Merkle

      They understand and want to make peace not war. In relative obscurity. Literally.

      1. invisible man

        Me too. Give me peace over war. I see a “stay at home strike” as a peaceful protest. We didn’t start the Censorship war – but I feel compelled to do what is necessary to keep the Internet free. Don’t you?

        1. Emily Merkle

          working here trying to break the interwebs

        2. Emily Merkle

          I absolutely do. I am in battles with the Zombies right now, professionally, actually. It is getting in the way of business. Hard to negotiate with a Censorship Zombie. I am a big believer in “the best offense is a good defense” way of thinking.

  19. Rayhan Rafiq Omar

    But what if there are a whole generation growing up on hacker-unfriendly, over-simplified, locked-down Apple products?

    1. Emily Merkle

      don’t underestimate your anchor babies please

    2. Emily Merkle

      we are safe

    3. kidmercury

      that might be a good thing — problems inspire creativity. necessity is the mother of invention…..although i don’t think there is cause for concern, android is growing like crazy and there will be many more OSes. 

  20. Matthew Lenhard

    A new generation of hackers is emerging and I think its something we should all be excited for, who knows what  innovations are on there way.In terms of teaching, hacking gives you range of skills that would normally be left out in a math, science and English curriculum. Mark zuckerberg said it best in his recent letter to the shareholders letter so I’ll just leave his quote.”Hacking is an inherently hands-on and active discipline. Instead of debating for days whether a new idea is possible or what the best way to build something is, hackers would rather just prototype something and see what works. There’s a hacker mantra that you’ll hear a lot around Facebook offices: Code wins arguments.” It teaches you to just go for it and that’s something you really can’t be taught anywhere else.

    1. fredwilson

      code wins argumentsnice

  21. Carl J. Mistlebauer

    Okay, now the “old guy” weighs in…..and Fred you left this part out of your childhood and as you only had limited access to computers you spent more time doing these things than you did hacking away at West Point:1.  Tell kids to go play outside but give them no toys.  They will eventually get creative out of necessity.  They will learn after a rain to build dams out of mud and “dig” channels with their fingers to run water from one puddle to the next.  They will learn to weave things out of twigs.  They will lay down in the grass and watch the cloud move across the sky, wondering what lies beyond the clouds, what are clouds made up of, and they will wonder where those clouds came from and where they go.  At night they will look up at the stars and wonder if anyone lives on them.Its not always about structure, coding, computers, and “access” to programs….sometimes just letting kids be kids, letting them explore and experiment is more than enough.But then again, back in the 60’s and early 70’s Mom stayed home, daycares and schools were not our only source of “education.”  You sure could learn a lot by spending the summer with your grandparents.  The television was never on during the day; in fact your Mom would tell you to go outside and play if you were found sitting inside.Actually, we were pretty independent back then, we didn’t rely on our parents to schedule events or activities as we could pretty much walk from one end of town to the other and stop and visit any place we wanted to.Legos were just a set of different sized blocks with no instructions, so you had to come up with things to build out of your own creativity….if you were bored you had the public library and a whole stack of National Geographic’s that you could explore….Yeah, we fell out of trees and got hurt, or we fell off our bikes, or we got chased out of some neighbors garage…..that is the “cost” of the “benefit” of the freedom we enjoyed to explore and create and yes sometimes we got into fights (I remember my Mom always telling me to never pick on anyone “smaller” than me and yes, EVERYONE was smaller than I was….”If we truly want to create a future of innovation, creativity, and expanded opportunities for the next generation then maybe we need to look to the past for the answers….

    1. fredwilson

      i think you need both

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Preferably intertwined in some way.

    2. Emily Merkle

      let and show

    3. kidmercury

      we’ve passed the point of no return. so long as the electricity supply grows (which i think will occur, but not without a challenge), software will find its way into everything — bikes and legos included

      1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

        Actually, our utility infrastructure isn’t all that dependable; its old, its over capacity, and its prone to blackouts and attacks….So, we just might to think about the “foundation” from which we are creating our visions of the future….Oh, and Kid, before you mention our current debt crisis, lets remember, if we can come together and envision a future of growth and prosperity for everyone, then our current debt problems are honestly irrelevant. Debt is only overwhelming when you cannot envision a future where the wealth necessary to pay down the debt is possible.

        1. kidmercury

          because of current monetary policy money and debt are inextricably linked……all money is loaned into existence, so the debt trap is inescapable until monetary policy is reformed. i agree the utility infrastructure needs vast improvement, though i think that will occur… fact i regard it as the most exciting opportunity out there today, and one that is easy to be a part of via relevant and quality public stocks. the nuclear renaissance is just getting started……and i think it will be huge, even bigger than the internet revolution

  22. Mark Essel

    I enjoyed the books I read due to self inclination far more than assigned reading. I hope there’s a generous mix of unstructured exploratory hacking in tomorrow’s coding classes. That’s where a life’s passion is brewed.

  23. fredwilson

    for sure

  24. Jon Michael Miles

    At the same that there is now a generation that has always known SMS, smart phones and the web – there will also soon be a generation that doesn’t know how to drive because Google will do that for them.

    1. Emily Merkle

      thank you 

    2. fredwilson

      or dial a phone

    3. Emily Merkle

      difference between knowing and doing

  25. 10Celeb

    On the topic of automated bots, I am 10celeb –> a new social game within twitter –> Check me out at P.S. Fred helped create me

    1. Calvino Barkin

      i didn’t know fred made this? Is this true?***i unlocked the @drake badge a lil ago

      1. Emily Merkle

        boy scouts on acid

  26. george

    To franchise this thought further: I expect these 8th graders will develop and live in a world with much higher expectations. The standards set over the past 25+ years were revolutionary (internet, browser, search, text, sound, video, graphics, mobile, social and apps). But I contemplate the next generation’s elasticity; does broader access and essentially zero learning fixed costs really translate into improved creative thinking and critical skills?I once read and firmly believe, “math is an aid to thinking and not a substitute for thinking.” However, I’m not sure if the focus to streamline and reduce the number of clicks actually helps or hurts our future.Just a thought… 

    1. Emily Merkle

      thoughts are cool

      1. george


    2. Dave W Baldwin

      Speaking in philosophical tone, the bigger problem for 8th graders is sometimes the adults are the ones not acting so grown up.  At this point, parents and the system are scared.You’re right that math is not the substitute for thinking.As we move forward, we will begin to communicate via thought, starting with phrasing that is easy to know where that phrase is coming in from, what it alludes and opined forward.  This way, we start to diminish the clutter that builds with so many redundancies.This ushers a new dimension of creativity where abstract is better understood.IOW, the start of communicating what is contained on a neuron vs. having to string together however many hoping those being told understand.

      1. Emily Merkle

        IOW please define

        1. Dave W Baldwin

          IOW stands for “In Other Words”.Sorry…

  27. Michael Shaler

    First time commenter, spooked by serendipity: “It was at age fourteen that I started going down to the West Point computer center and playing around with the mainframes they had there. It was 1975 and I was going into ninth grade.”Me too, but in 1978—for me, it was the Tektronix graphics terminals that got me hooked, in the same basement at West Point…:)

    1. fredwilson

      i loved those graphics terminalswhen did you live at west point?

  28. Ben Apple

    That’s cool to think about your personal timeline with computers and I must applaud you with your dedication of tech education.  Just coming to this site and reading what you and this community has to say has inspired me to educate myself more.  I never got into programming as a youngster.  Those that did had to really love it because it was so hard to access at that time and teach yourself.  Thanks to you and this community, I’ve gotten involved in codecademy and also, really great educational sites.  So thanks to Fred and everyone else for being so inspiring!

  29. JamesHRH

    My kids are almost 10 & 7.They have had an iDevice since they were 3.My ‘almost 10 yo’ has her own Phone, Pad & Pod. And uses them all.Its just like the bits you hear on radio morning shows every June – ‘these grads have no idea what a ________ is”…….Except it is way more powerful to think of what 8th graders just accept as part of their world.Great post.

  30. Mike Burnett

    Another eighth grader said he wanted to build a better social network, one that was based on the things that interested him and one that would connect him with kids around the world that were interested in the same things.It exists –

  31. Ranjan

    Things have been changing all the time, so of course computer and Internet world. The one who is well communicated with the communication channel will get big advantage. 

  32. Carl Rahn Griffith

    It sure puts things into perspective – very similar numbers for me – coming up to my 5th anniversary on Twitter soon, I think.Time flies…Not that I really use it much now but people still sometimes ask me how did I ‘get’ carlg(at) I ask myself, was it by being a long-standing pseudo-maven or simply old? Bit of both, I guess 😉  I still remember registering it on my then 386 tower-system(!) Olivetti. Yikes.Remember when you had virtually no-one to email with, let alone Twitter with? That sure reminds you how times have changed.In an era of email IDs with half a dozen digits to make them unique I guess it is kind of cool to have a ‘real’ email address – other than one from one’s own domain of course, which doesn’t count ;-)Wish I’d had the nous to reserve same on Twitter rather than just my ‘brand’ – ‘egoboss’ – I thought it would be greedy to set-aside a few IDs back then. D’oh.Excited by what the tech landscape will look like in 5 years time – let alone 10, 20, 30.For all its frustrations, at times, it’s an amazing industry. I sometimes wonder what consumers think/make of it all, as we are a tad too much in the echo-chamber to maybe see it as they do?

    1. Emily Merkle

      exactly just wondering please.

  33. Emily Merkle

    why not?asking is okay 

  34. Emily Merkle

    please stop. think. save. know. be. try. please I love you. 

  35. hypermark

    Two thoughts. One is that I knew that we “weren’t in Kansas anymore” when my then two-and-a-half year old came into my home office, and said, “Kaa I use yuh iPod.” (His command of the English language wasn’t so great at that point.)An hour later, I’d find the kid, headphones on, happily watching YouTube videos, listening to music and viewing photos. This was with zero direction from me, and pre-dates the launch of App Store, so it was indicative to me of how native to the DNA of the next generation such technology would be.Two is that, generationally, I feel blessed to remember a time before the PC, before cable TV, before the cell phone, and right on the pivot moment between the malaise of the late 70s and the explosion that was soon to follow.Both paths offer opportunities for great clarity and wonder.

  36. George Haines

    Fred,Those kids sound ready for bigger challenges for sure.If you want to hook any of them up with the MicroInterns program, just let me know. I’d be more than happy to find a good fit for them.

  37. EntrepreneursAnonymous

    Coming to this one late, but if it hasn’t been said, this reminds me of an observation by Malcolm Gladwell in “Outliers” where he suggests that Bill Gates could only become Bill Gates because of when he was born (with the set of mental models and assumptions associated with that generation) – neither 5 years too soon nor 5 years too late. I’m trying to figure out how to “see” through the eyes of a person who has grown up in this hyper-connected world. I’m trying to do so not only to find opportunities but also to ensure my relevance as a late 30something.

    1. fredwilson

      i bumped into malcolm coming back from a run yesterday. he lives down the street from me.

  38. Jen Berrent

    Thank you (belatedly) for specifically referencing girls.  When I was in high school, I was great at math and sciences, but not one person ever suggested I try coding (or even applying to a school like MIT) – and I had no exposure.  My cousin who is about a decade younger than I (he is currently using his engineering skills in Tonga through the Peace Corps) keeps asking why I never learned to code…times were different and not sure I would have taken it up.  Tt is great to see a focus on girls today. 

    1. fredwilson

      it’s a big part of why i’m behind this school

  39. ShanaC

    I don’t think there will be one – as computers become more ubiquitous (hi raspberry pi sized machines in my fridge) operating systems will become more specialized for tasks because containing all the functions an OS can do without having the ability to interact with those parts of the OS is kind of sillypersonal guess, that it why iOS fragments by size and Android just fragments

  40. Matt A. Myers

    Agreed. Though come a long way since Windows 3.1 🙂

  41. Emily Merkle

    but the tools we don’t?

  42. ShanaC

    Teaching creativity isn’t a needed skill when you need someone to just do something.And sadly, since the 90s, creativity has gone down among american students – something I don’t fully understand myself the causes of.

  43. Drew Meyers

    “The reality is only some of those kids will be inclined and ambitious enough to solve problems. The others will work with or for them, happily, embracing someone else’s mission and vision. “yea, unfortunately, ambition is certainly lacking from the majority of people in this world. The ones that have it..are the ones who will change the world

  44. LE

    Put 30 kindergarten kids in a room with a ton of legos, or paint and paintbrushes, or paper and crayons, and each of them will be creative, making their own things. Twenty years later, maybe three of them will–they will be the big problem solvers. it would be great if they could solve the problem that allows that ratio to persist. Kids change when they go through puberty and as a result of peer pressure.  It’s a hormonal thing.

  45. fredwilson

    when andy and charlie agree, take notice

  46. Donna Brewington White

    “it would be great if they could solve the problem that allows that ratio to persist.”  I have heard this attributed to the way kids are educated.  Such an emphasis on conformity — at least as one element of this.It’s a conspiracy.  😉

  47. LE

    “Teaching creativity isn’t a needed skill when you need someone to just do something.” Not sure I understand what you mean.I think she means that the world needs ditch diggers. 

  48. Dave W Baldwin

    @ShanaC:disqus In many ways it is a paradox where the number of tools introduced that change the way we dig ditch @domainregistry:disqus doesn’t seem to produce a bigger number of those who can think outside box and fashion something incredibly better.Shana, the bigger ‘thing’ lost is something @peterbeddows:disqus mentioned to me…critical thinking.  I’m not sure that is a matter of school since back when you were holding different gadgets and taking them apart, or putting them back together.With the changeof assembly line operations and their numbers dropping in the US, it is something that a 10-15 yr old just doesn’t really understand like a teen from the 70’s.   

  49. Luke Chamberlin

    Robots are the new ditch digger.

  50. ShanaC

    thank you LE

  51. Emily Merkle


  52. sigmaalgebra

    The OS world still has a long way to go in security, monitoring, management, administration, and functionality.  With more emphasis on computer to computer work, we will need more from OSs.  With 1000 core processors, still more.  

  53. ShanaC

    soon it won’t, but I think the OS cycle may start over again soon. We’re not done with the formfactor revolution at all.

  54. sigmaalgebra

    Well, the cores, memory, and bandwidth are coming.For cores, at…is> Nov 19, 2010 5:20 pm Intel:  1,000-core Processor Possible> By Joab Jackson, IDG News> An experimental Intel chip shows the feasibility of building processors with 1,000 cores, an Intel researcher has asserted.> Only after 1,000 cores or so, the diameter of the mesh, or the on-chip network connecting the many cores, will grow to such an extent that it would negatively impact performance,For main memory, a few weeks ago, Tiger Direct had main memory down to $10 for 4 GB.  Good grief:  My local Chinese carryout gets $10 for one order, about 2 quarts, of not very good Moo Shu Pork — lots of cabbage with everything else is missing or nearly so.So at that price 1 TB would be $2500, and no doubt that price will continue to fall.For mass storage, at…is> Victorinox squeezes 1TB of high-speed storage into a Swiss Army Knife> By:  Dan Graziano | Jan 10th, 2012 at 02:25AMThe chips are small, about the area of a postage stamp and with thickness a few stamps.So, let’s see: Assume 4 GB per movie and for all the reasonably good movies 1 movie a week for 100 years and get4 * 10**9 * 52 * 100 = 20,800,000,000,000so that 21 of those Victorinox chips could store all the movies.  If pack the chips in, might fit them all into a somewhat larger smart phone.There would be plenty of room for 1000 such chips, a petabyte (PB), in a computer case, mid-tower or 2U high server case (1 U = 1.75″).What to do with such computing?  Well, a lot of work on OSes, middle-ware, security, system monitoring, management, and administration to make such hardware easy to use.  I didn’t mention backup and recovery — will want more on those, too.  And will want more on continuous availability.For> I’m gonna go out on a limb and ask what the application is…well, my application, as it is, has been designed for current, routine mid-tower cases.  One such case connected at just 5 Mbps upload bandwidth should get me profitable, and my back of the envelope arithmetic says that 2000 square feet of standard rack space, 1.2 PB of virtual memory address space, about 60 PB of mass storage (considering multiple copies for redundancy, backup, etc.), about 120 Gbps upload to the Internet would let me serve the world with all that I’ve hoped for, about $10 B pre-tax earnings per year.But with so much computing, could consider doing more.Broadly I believe that we want the computers doing more.  Or for what do people want, there is a famous, one word answer, “More”.Maybe a family of four has both parents working with the family grossing $80 K a year.  If we can get a factor of 10 increase in productivity, then we could have one parent stay home and do more to help the children, the other parent cut back from 80 hours a week to 40, and gross $200 K a year, and we are sure that they could spend it.For another factor of 10, they could gross $2 million a year, get the best educations K through graduate or professional schools for their kids, save for retirement, have a nice house in a nice neighborhood, and go on nice vacations,For another factor of 10, they could have a nice boat house with a nice boat, say, 50 feet, a cabin in the mountains for skiing, an even nicer house, parties for friends, be active in the arts and sciences, etc.With more factors of 10 they could retire early and fund ambitious projects in the arts and sciences, e.g., one heck of a telescope at a Lagrangian point.So we’re talking one factor of 10 ASAP and at least three factors of 10 plus some if doable.How to get the factors of 10?  Well, a nearly necessary condition is to automate the work, and the key to such automation has to be much more in computing. 

  55. Donna Brewington White

    Changes earlier than that.

  56. leapy

    Open Standardselectronic mail started off between nodes on closed platforms (network/programmatic). the closed systems (at least in academia) started allowing email to pass between but often requiring translation to do so.Just under 30 years ago saw broad adoption of email traversing the internet using open standards. fire up an SMTP server and off you went.

  57. kidmercury

    i saw the word “conspiracy” which is my cue to enter the conversation! for conspiracies related to the public education system, see “the deliberate dumbing down of america” a book available for free on the web by charlotte iserbyt, former department of education member. 

  58. ShanaC

    True, but you can teach critical thinking….

  59. Donna Brewington White

    Of course, I thought of you when I used that word.  Almost cc’d you.Do you do a control+F for conspiracy?  ;)Seems like it would be in a nation’s best interests to have a smart citizenship — at least in a democratic society with a capitalistic economic system.   I wish I could say that this “dumbing down” conspiracy is preposterous, but I can’t.  There was an actual conspiracy in the town in which I grew up to keep schools internally segregated.  Years later a lawsuit was filed and this all came out in the open.  I know I shouldn’t tell you these things.Keep us honest, Kid.