I watched the video podcast, via itunes, today of the recent live conversation at the D5 Conference in San Diego between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Here is a link to that podcast if you haven’t already accessed it:
This is a truly powerful conversation and one that is both a detailed historical take on the last 30 years of software and computing and also a useful tool for anticipating future technological innovation. The people that were in the audience truly seemed to love the dialogue and it’s fairly obvious why after watching the video podcast.
I was surprised to understand the mutual respect and regard Gates and Jobs have for each other. They are two people who truly like each other and admire the vision and accomplishments each other have achieved. In the case of Jobs, its a respect for Gates founding the first, true software company and in the case of Gates, respecting Jobs’ bet in particular on the Mac as a mainstream platform. Bill also appears to respect Steve for recognizing the importance of marketing and taste in building great products.
Education was a major theme in the conversation, which was interesting to me personally, particularly coming from Gates. I would have suspected to hear more on that topic from Jobs instead, whose company has maintained a more dedicated focus to that vertical over the years compared to Microsoft. That said, it was encouraging to hear Gates describe the role that the internet, digital media and technology in general can have on education and I couldn’t agree with his sentiments any more.
Along the lines of education, this is a pioneer’s recount of the chronologic last 30 years of technology at many levels. This piece should be shown in history, computer science classes and other areas of education for years to come. It was also an impressive level of recollection of the early technical details including storage unit measurement details of the earliest graphic interfaces, etc. It was amazing though to think that early computers were shipping with 128k of memory installed as compared to gigs of memory today.
If I were to have one criticism of the discussion, it would be the moderation. I believe that it was Kara Swisher from the WSJ sitting alongside Walt Mossberg. Thank goodness Walt was there to save the moderation of the interview. Kara was generally irritating and unsophisticated in her questioning. The two of them almost seemed to be having a Ryan Seacreast-Simon Cowell moment battling for the spotlight to ask the next question and the whole discussion would have been better with one moderator in general.
Other than that small side comment, this is well worth the hour plus review. I learned a ton about two great innovators and was inspired by them on many levels.