Looking for the future? Watch the “crackpots”

Tim O'Reilly and Charlie Rose discuss the drivers of new technology: enthusiasts.

By Mac Slocum
October 6, 2011
Tim O'Reilly and Charlie Rose at IAB Mixx 2011. Tim O'Reilly and Charlie Rose at IAB Mixx 2011. (source: YouTube)

Attention in the tech space is generally bestowed upon massive incumbents or hot new startups. The small teams and lone enthusiasts rarely get a mention, let alone major media coverage.

But if you’re looking for what’s next — the envelope-pushing stuff and the tech that will shape our world in years to come — you need to expand your field of vision to include the “crackpots.”

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This point was the crux of an energetic discussion between Tim O’Reilly and Charlie Rose at the IAB Mixx Conference & Expo.

“The future often happens with crackpots who are pre-startup,” O’Reilly said. “By the time the venture capitalists and the startups arrive, the technology is in full swing.” [Discussed 21 seconds in.]

The interview touched on a number of related topics, including:

  • The evolution of Maker Faire and the arrival of the VCs. [59 seconds in]
  • Who knows the enthusiasts driving new technology? The other enthusiasts. [1:34]
  • The convergence of “patterns in technology and patterns in people.” [2:00]
  • What qualities do enthusiasts share? Disregard for convention, independent thinkers, passion, and they want to make the future happen. [3:41]
  • Asking who will be the next Mark Zuckerberg is like asking “who will be the next person to win the lottery.” [4:35]

A portion of the interview has been made available in the following video:

You’ll find comments and additional discussion about this interview in this Google+ thread.


Post topics: Business