代表 「22 世纪」工作通信模式的 BearyChat，这个系列的第一期应该推荐这篇 22 年前 Bill Gates 关于电子邮件这种当时的前卫通信手段的文章。
这篇内容发表于 1994 年，读起来十足的「年代感」，感受一下在那个年代新的工作通信工具是如何 amazing~
Email from Bill 一封来自比尔·盖茨的邮件
我第一次发了一封邮件问他，作为一种通讯方式，你认为 email 有什么特别之处吗？不久，我收到了他的回复。
他的答复是，email 有很多理由成为一个独特的通信工具，但是 email 不是一个直接交流的替代品。就像很少有人知道他的家庭电话，可他的 email 地址却广为人知。他认为 email 保证了沟通的专一性，也非常好的保证了沟通内容的安全性，还可以有话直说不需要借助寒暄打破尴尬。
我问过他未来对他来说是什么样的，问过他怎么看待「电视是麻醉人的鸦片」这句话，问什么是激励他的源泉，甚至询问他和时代华纳以及 T.C.I. 的联盟是否变得不稳固了。
原文链接 作者：JOHN SEABROOK
这是 Bill 回复给作者的第一封邮件：
E-mail is a unique communication vehicle for a lot of reasons. However email is not a substitute for direct interaction . . .
There are people who I have corresponded with on email for months before actually meeting them—people at work and otherwise. If someone isn’t saying something of interest its easier to not respond to their mail than it is not to answer the phone. In fact I give out my home phone number to almost no one but my email address is known very broadly. I am the only person who reads my email so no one has to worry about embarrassing themselves or going around people when they send a message. Our email is completely secure. . . .
Email helps out with other types of communication. It allows you to exchange a lot of information in advance of a meeting and make the meeting far far more valuable. . . .
Email is not a good way to get mad at someone since you can’t interact. You can send friendly messages very easily since those are harder to misinterpret.
Feelings are pretty personal. I love coming up with new ideas or seeing in advance what is going to count and then making it happen. I love working with smart people. . . .Our business is very very competitive—one or two false moves and you can fall behind in a way that would wipe you out. Market share does not give you the right to relax. IBM is the best example of this. This is very scary but also makes it very interesting.
The digital revolution is all about facilitation—creating tools to make things easy. When I was a kid I was a lot more curious than I am today—perhaps I have lost less curiosity than the average adult but if I had had the information tools we are building today I would know a lot more and not have given up learning some things.
These tools will be really cool. Say today you want to meet someone with similar interests to talk or take a trip together or whatever? Its hard and somewhat random. Say you want to make sure you pick a good doctor or read a good book? We can make all of these things work so well—its empowering stuff.
Enough for now.
Interactive TV is probably a really bad name for the in-home device connected to the information highway.
Lets say I am sitting at home wondering about some new drug that was prescribed to me. Or wanting to ask a question to my children’s teacher. Or curious about my social security status. Or wondering about crime in my neighborhood. Or wanting to exchange information with other people thinking about visiting Tanzania. Or wondering if the new lawn mower I want to buy works well and if its a good price. Or I want to ask people who read a book what they thought of it before I take my time reading it. In all of these cases being able to reach out and communicate by using a messaging or bulletin board type system lets me do something I could never do before. Assume that the infrastructure and device to do this is easy to use and it was funded by the cable or phone company primarily because I like to watch movies and video-conference with my relatives.
All of the above is about how adults will use the system. Kids will use it in ways we can’t even imagine.
The opportunity for people to reach out and share is amazing. This doesn’t mean you will spend more time inside! It means you will use your time more effectively and get to do the things you like more than in the past as well as doing new things. If you like to get outside you will find out a lot more about the places that are not crowded and find good companions to go with.
The bottom line is that 2 way communication is a very different beast than 1 way communication. In some ways a phone that has an unbelievable directory, lets you talk or send messages to lots of people, and works with text and pictures is a better analogy than TV. The phone did change the world by making it a smaller place. This will be even more dramatic. There will be some secondary effects that people worry about but they won’t be the same as TV. We are involved in creating a new media but it is not up to us to be the censors or referees of this media—it is up to public policy to make those decisions.
Because TV had very few channels the value of TV time was very high so only things of VERY broad interest could be aired on those few channels. The information highway will be the opposite of this—more like the library of congress but with an easy way to find things.
Its easy to understand why I think I have the best job around because of day to day enjoyment rather than some grand long term deep psychological explanation. Its a lot of fun to work with very smart people in a competitive environment. . . .We get to hire the best people coming out of school and give them challenging jobs. We get to try and figure out how to sell software in every part of the world. Sometimes our ideas work very well and sometimes they work very poorly. As long as we stay in the feedback loop and keep trying its a lot of fun.
It is pretty cool that the products we work on empower individuals and make their jobs more interesting. It helps a lot in inventing new software ideas that I will be one of the users of the software so I can model what’s important . . . .
Just thinking of things as winning is a terrible approach. Success comes from focusing in on what you really like and are good at—not challenging every random thing. My original vision of a personal computer on every desk and every home will take more than 15 years to achieve so there will have been more than 30 years since I first got excited about that goal. My work is not like sports where you actually win a game and its over after a short period of time.
Besides a lot of luck, a high energy level and perhaps some IQ_I think having an ability to deal with things at a very detailed level and a very broad level and synthesize between them is probably the thing that helps me the most. This allows someone to take a deep technical understanding and figure out a business strategy that fits together with it.
It’s ridiculous to consider how things will be remembered after you are dead. The pioneers of personal computers including Jobs, Kapor, Lampson, Roberts, Kaye, are all great people but I don’t think any of us will merit an entry in a history book.
I don’t remember being wounded or losing something big so I don’t think that is driving me. I have wonderful parents and great siblings. I live in the same neighborhood I grew up in (although I will be moving across the lake when my new house is done). I can’t remember any major disappointments. I did figure out at one point that if I pursued pure mathematics it would be hard to make a major contribution and there were a few girls who turned me down when I asked them out.
I comb my hair everytime before I send email hoping to appear attractive. I try and use punctuation in a friendly way also. I send :) and never :(.
Your mail is the first time I have ever heard anyone suggest that John Malone and Jerry Levin deserve sympathy. They are both great people. They are both smarter about deal making than I will ever be. John and Jerry and I share a vision of what the Information Highway can become. Its an incredible opportunity for all 3 companies and we have been spending time to discussing how we might help each other. We don’t have anything concrete at this stage although we have developed a high level of trust for each other.
I think that giving money away takes a lot of effort. Not as much effort as making it but still a lot to do it properly. Therefore when I am old and have time I will put some effort into that. Assuming I still have a lot of money by the time I retire which is certainly no certain thing I will give away well over 90% of it since I dont believe in kids having too much money. I am like my friend Warren Buffett in this respect. I have already done some giving like to UW for a biotechnology department [Gates gave the University of Washington twelve million dollars] and some to Stanford for a computer science building [six million] and some to United Way which I really believe in. I do believe in funding great research so some of my philanthropy will relate to that. Some to humans service activities. Some to education. Some to population control efforts if it looks like donations can really help there.
Gatsby had a dream and he pursued it not even really thinking he might fail or worse that what he dreamed of wasn’t real. The green light is a symbol of his optimism—he had come so far he could hardly fail to grasp it. At the end Fitz is reinforcing what a romantic figure Gatsby is. Its also sort of about America but I think of it more in terms of the people.
Once, when I was composing E-mail to Gates on an airplane, I felt physically closer to him than when I was composing from home. Perhaps I was thinking of all the thousands of people who have encountered this remarkable person on airplanes, restlessly wandering the aisles with his shoes off, or sitting in a seat staring into the screen of his laptop computer, rocking, writing E-mail that will be fired into the network when the plane lands and send hundreds of people at Microsoft scurrying into action.
Many executives in the telegraph industry, which had enjoyed control of the communications field since about 1840, believed that the telephone did not present a threat to their business, because no one would want a communications machine that did not leave a written record of the conversation, as telegrams did. When William Orton, the president of Western Union, which was the Microsoft of its day, was offered the opportunity to buy Alexander Graham Bell’s patent on the telephone for a hundred thousand dollars, he is said to have replied, “What use could this company make of an electric toy?” This remark seems less dim to me now.