In October 2003, I attended the PopTech conference. At one lunch I found myself with four people who claimed to practice what seemed to be an odd, cultlike ritual they called blogging. Like Mr. Jones, I knew there was something happening, but I didn't know what it was--at least not yet. So I changed the subject by getting into a political argument with JD Lasica and David Weinberger. Later, I would have a few beers with the other two bloggers--Buzz Bruggeman and Ernie the Attorney. They would both become special friends and primary influences in getting me to blog. Buzz would do it with his untrammeled evangelism and Ernie would do it because I just loved his wry, clean transparent writing style.
Later,Buzz would play the connector's role in getting me to write a book on blogging with Robert Scoble. Yesterday, I got to interview Ernie for that book. We had not talked in several months and we ended up chatting on all sorts of things. Some of the most fascinating was way-off topic, but so what.
Ernie is truly a Renaissance thinker. His interests are diverse, skitting from photography to SCUBA, from music and sports to the law and technology's impact on life. He described how he was different than Buzz who was always among the fastest to embrace new tech. "I don't always love technology. Sometimes it's like spam, trying to get into people's lives, trying to intrude. Mostly I observe how it effects people and it just adds a lot iof stress to our lives and it is supposed to make people’s lives easier. It isn’t doing what it should, unless its easy for people to know how to use it." He referred to the old business analogy of how people never buy drills because they want them, they buy drill because they want holes. While technology is supposed to help us with the holes, we realized that we both know people who just love the drills.
" People keep hearing how its supposed to make their lives easier and better and it often does the opposite, " he said. "Don't get me wrong. I actually love technol..." he was saying, when our cell phone connection died, which sort of proved the point.
I got more than what I needed for my book. But for the last day or so, I've been reflected on how much I like the way Ernie thinks and how--of all the people I've met through blogging---I feel the closest of kindred spiritualism with him. My central interest is what happens to people when they connect or collide with technology. What happens to the planet when people start living for 300 years and we just go in to a clinic to replace aging hearts. How did the Internet change us as a people. It really has been more significant than the spam and popups that intrude. That stuff wouldn't matter if they weren't intruding from something more important.
Ernie shared with me that he's thinking of writing a book on "the Feng Shui of Technology," how it fits into our lives and if we place it in the proper perspectives it makes us more tranquil and powerful all at once.
I hope he gets to do it. Ernie's a natural giver. And the world will benefit from his insight, wisdom and humor.