“The technology is not the goal”

I have been watching the high-lights coming out of this year’s 10th All Things D conference, a get together for the notables of various technology firms and firms that intersect the field.

One thing that strikes me is that many of the guests who speak about larger issues than their own company’s immediate concerns downplay the relevance of the technologies themselves. They speak of the ability of the technology to enable the creativity of others. A personal hero of mine, Ed Catmull, one of the fathers of 3D computer graphics and a founder of Pixar (among other achievements) speaks very directly and plainly about how this is the case.

I write software for a living. I’ve worked in the games industry for years. One of the most rewarding aspects of what I’ve done has been creating systems that have allowed people who are creative in different ways than I am to make something great. My greatest thrills have come when creative people have taken the tools I’ve designed for them and have made something that I didn’t believe was possible.

All Things D has made available all of the Steve Jobs’ appearances at the conference. Watch them. If you can watch them back to back and realize how Jobs sticks to the message year after year, even using the same jokes and shtick. But my favourite line is where he’s talking about Pixar and it’s success and saying they still do things the way Walt Disney did. “Sure, they’ve got the most powerful pencils in the world”.

Making pencils is cool.

Pencils being made