Ev Williams has figured out the internet.
That’s what he told the gathered tech heads at the recent XOXO conference in Portland, Oregon, and while he may have said this with tongue partly in cheek, he spent the next 30 minutes unloading his unified theory of the global computer network, an interpretation formed after 20 years of hard thinking — to say nothing of his experience creating seminal internet companies Blogger and Twitter.
In his speech, Williams explained what the internet is, how it works, and how to get rich from it. Truth be told, Williams is not the best public speaker, but his message was clear: at a time when so many internet entrepreneurs are running around Silicon Valley trying to do something no one else has ever done, Williams believes that the real trick is to find something that’s tried and true — and to do it better. It’s a speech that should serve as a signpost, a bit of much-needed direction for the Valley’s younger generation.
The bottom line, Williams said, is that the internet is “a giant machine designed to give people what they want.” It’s not a utopia. It’s not magical. It’s simply an engine of convenience. Those who can tune that engine well — who solve basic human problems with greater speed and simplicity than those who came before — will profit immensely. Those who lose sight of basic human needs — who want to give people the next great idea — will have problems.
“We often think of the internet enables you to do new things,” Williams said. “But people just want to do the same things they’ve always done.”
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