Monday, May 10, 2010

Genesis of the Makers: A Less Than Noble Catalyst

Making Monday

If "revenge is a dish best served cold,"* then writing is a great way to get revenge: the publication time tables are such that the dish is very cold by the time the book is on the shelves.

My notions about makers and users arose not from a need for actual revenge, but from a desire to show former associates how wrong they were. You see, the start-up I'd been with for seven years finally fell apart and I found myself with some time on my hands.

The fundamental problem with the start-up was that after seven years, it was still a start-up: we'd managed to attract a lot of venture capital but we hadn't produced any revenue. Between mistakes and bad luck, we'd had plenty of set backs. Nonetheless, towards the end we'd finally put together a solid technical foundation. of course, because the universe is governed by irony, that's when the investors finally decided to pull the plug (which was actually about four years after the company should have died, but that's another story).

Time and again I've noticed that the makers, those creative, brilliant people who actually make things, tend to be at the mercy of the people who are good at using, particularly in the sense of gaining control of wealth and resources.

In the midst of the emotional turmoil of a business falling apart in spite of the extraordinary efforts of most of the technical contributors, I wondered what the world would look like if makers had real power.

That was the seed around which my ideas about system keepers and system beaters crystallized and grew into first a setting for a series of fantasy novels and then an entire philosophical framework.

And best of all, thanks to the philosophy, I transcended my initial motives. I came to understand that true makers have no time for vengeance.

* Old Klingon proverb

 Image: Bill Longshaw /

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