The Churchill Club

The Churchill Club is the real deal. Movers and shakers and enterpreneurs. A nexus. I’m always blown away.

cclubSome of my notes from tonight’s session, mainly Alan Kay’s observations.

“The revolution is old but it feels like it’s just taking off.”

Kay and a bunch of his pals back in ARPA and PARC days remembered Licklider, who wanted ARPA to develop and intellectual amplifier. In those cold war days, money was not a problem. The influential were out to change the world, not to amass fortunes. Licklider called for developing an intergalactic network. Missing the mark created the internet.

Unfortunately, business people are rewarded for making money, not for improving the world. Imagine how business would look at marketing bicycles if starting from scratch. These things have one hell of a steep learning curve. And they are dangerous. Kids are going to ride them in traffic. Our lawyers will be in fits. Forget it.


Appropriately, Kay shared a Churchill anecdote with a great message: The future is cooperation, not competition.

The hostess at the manor party tells Sir Winston she’s just seen a senior peer pocket a solid silver salt cellar. Should she confront him?

Winston walked over to the earl, pocketing a salt shaker along the way. As he pulled the shaker from his pocket, he told the earl, “it looks like we’ve been discovered. Better put them back.”


Kay set a hurdle for software. It should be like the human body, which replaces every molecule in the course of seven years; it doesn’t have to die for maintenance and then reboot. Software should accommodate improvement without shutting down.

The typical Silicon Valley has a little angel on her shoulder, saying “Change the world.” On the other should sits a little devil saying “Get rich quick.”

Why is the movie industry in Hollywood? It’s not just the light. It was as far as they could get away from New York. Similarly, Xerox put PARC in Palo Alto, far from the executive offices in Stamford, CT.

Kay hasn’t seen much true innovation beyond mere scaling.

Business people seem to feel as if God had given them this verdant valley, and they figure it’s their right to strip it bare.

MOOCs? The amazing thing is their popularity. The underbelly is Backlash.

Maxwell (or maybe it was Faraday) gave Disraeli a demo of two small motors. “What are they good for?” The reply: “What are human babies good for?”

Most managers are more concerned about maintaining control than with doing the job well.



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