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Tim Oreilly's Commencement Speech At UC Berkeley SIMS

Tim Oreilly's Commencement Speech At UC Berkeley SIMS

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Published by George Appiah
This inspiring commencement speech was given by Tim O'Reilly in 2006 at University of California, Berkeley's School of Information (often called SIMS, for its old name, the School of Information Management and Systems).
This inspiring commencement speech was given by Tim O'Reilly in 2006 at University of California, Berkeley's School of Information (often called SIMS, for its old name, the School of Information Management and Systems).

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Published by: George Appiah on May 25, 2009
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05/11/2014

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Tim O’Reilly 
Publisher, Entrepreneur, Founder of O’Reilly Media, Inc
This great commencement address was given by Tim O'Reilly in2006 at theUC Berkeley School of Information(often called SIMS,for its old name, the School of Information Management andSystems).
Thank you very much for having me here to speak to you. I know that this isan important day in your lives, and I’m honored to be the one chosen to give you advice as you begin the next stage of your careers. I hope that you willfind that advice useful.
I hope also that I am able to make my comments meaningful to those who helped get you here -- the spouses, parents, grandparents, and other family members who are so proud of you today. We work in a profession that can be mysteriousto the layman, with a private language that sets us apart like one of the secret societies depicted in The Da Vinci Code! I still remember my first exposure tothe computer industry as a humanities graduate. I was an experienced writer, but knew nothing about technology. I'd agreed to help a friend of mine, a  programmer, to land a contract job writing a manual. We interviewed twoengineers about their project while I took increasingly desperate notes. It was asif they were speaking a foreign language! As we walked away, I turned to my friend and asked "Were they just pulling my leg?" It was hard to believe that this jargon-filled dialog was actually meaningful. It was an inauspicious start to my career.
GeorgeAppiah.com Presents: Greatest Speeches In History- Commencement Speeches +233-24-188-5761 •george@georgeappiah.comwww.georgeappiah.com 
 
There are three lessons that I took away from that moment. The first was to befearless in what you attempt. The job I eventually mastered was an enormousstretch for me. The second lesson was that a difficulty is often an opportunity indisguise. I built my company by bridging the information gap that I first encountered that day. The third lesson was the importance of serendipity in yourlife choices. I never imagined that I'd build a career as a technical writer, publisher, and entrepreneur. My training was in Greek and Latin Classics! Agreeing to help out my friend proved to be a turning point in my life.In my remarks today, I hope to elaborate on this idea of turning points. Not only are you at a turning point in your lives, we are at a turning point in thetechnology industry, and perhaps even in the history of the world. Most of you  probably know that I've been evangelizing an idea that I call Web 2.0, the idea that the internet is on the verge of replacing the personal computer as thedominant computing platform. And as you know, platform shifts are times of enormous disruption andenormous opportunity. New companies succeed because they envision the world anew, not as a logicalcontinuation of what went before. Microsoft became the dominant company of the personal computer age with an aggressive vision of computers in every  household, while industry titans of the previous era derided the personalcomputer as a toy, and wondered why anyone would need one.The same is true today. Our expectations and our familiarity with what has gone before blind us to what is coming.
GeorgeAppiah.com Presents: Greatest Speeches In History- Commencement Speeches +233-24-188-5761 •george@georgeappiah.comwww.georgeappiah.com 
 
So let’s step back for a moment, and ask ourselves what is different about thecomputing world we are now entering.The internet as platform. What does that mean?Let me make it concrete by asking those of you in the audience how many of you use the Linux operating system. Now how many of you use Google?Did you realize that Google is built on top of Linux? Did you even need to know  what operating system Google’s computers are running?That's the internet paradigm shift. The "computer" is no longer the device that  you have on your desk. It's the seamless integration -- well, maybe there are stilla few seams showing! -- the seamless integration of local computing devices (not  just PCs but also handheld devices, all the way down to the phones that I hope you turned off during this ceremony) with vast server farms out on the net.Some observers claim that Google is now running on as many as a million Linux servers. At the very least, it is running on hundreds of thousands. When you consider that the application Google delivers is instant access to documents andservices available from, by last count, more than 81 million independent webservers, we’re starting to understand how true it is, as Sun Microsystems co-founder John Gage famously said back in 1984, that “the network is thecomputer.” It took over 20 years for the rest of the industry to realize that  vision, but we’re finally there.Internet pundit Clay Shirky memorably summarized the shift to network computing with a story about Thomas Watson Jr., the head of IBM during the birth of the mainframe. Watson famously remarked that he saw no need for morethan 5 computers worldwide. Clay noted, “We now know that Thomas Watson
GeorgeAppiah.com Presents: Greatest Speeches In History- Commencement Speeches +233-24-188-5761 •george@georgeappiah.comwww.georgeappiah.com 

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