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Letters-General Questions Answered  

 

 

Comment from E-mail:
I'm a High School senior and an avid Mac user. I also enjoy writing, specially science fiction (not dark science fiction- I'm Star Trek fan) and I believe I have many good ideas, which I've refined since childhood.

Also, I have several ideas on a new computer (platform) design, and software, but as far as hardware and software is concerned, I lack the capabilities to see these ideas through, although I have a great desire to do so.

My parents would like me to go to college, and they have the economical means to pay for it (they enrolled me on the Florida Prepaid College program), but I am undecided. The time is coming when I will have to make a decision about what to do and where to go. I'm afraid I'll not fair well in college because I have a very strong tendency not to put attention on things that do not interest me. So, I'm not sure if I want to go right away, at least.

I don't have any money- I don't have a job (although I am working with a Macintosh related website which has yet to debut). But, I have my ideas. I would like to learn true programming (beyond BASIC, which I learned on the Apple II) and start programming for Mac OS X, and learn some basic hardware design, both of which I think will aide me in seeing my ideas through. But I don't know where to start or what to do.

I'm afraid college would distract me from my focus and, ultimately, although I am interested in other subjects as well, I don't want to spend four more in school unless this can help me achieve my goals. I am very eager to begin to realize what have simply been ideas and concepts in my mind and on paper for all these years.

Ironically, many of my ideas focus on education and betterment of education through technology. I believe that informal education is just as important as formal education and that today's (and tomorrow's) technology could be used much more effectively for both.

Thank you very much. I am thrilled that you are answering so many personal letters via e-Mail. This is truly a great opportunity for many people who respect and admire you, like I do, for what you done and what you're doing.

Woz:
You should go to college. Everyone will tell you that college was the most fun time of their lives. Don't miss the fun, even if it's joking around or whatever. Your ideas and dreams will have time to become more real. You will continue to think about them and work on them and modify your approaches. It has nothing to do with college, but that turns out to be a good place for your internal interests to grow too. Even if you drop out, what you got will be worth it.

You don't have to get straight A's. But you shouldn't skip college either. Even a little will introduce you to people that may be important contacts later in life.

Comment from E-mail:
I'm 26, and worried.

Worried that I will soon have children, and regardless of the efforts I will make to ensure that my kids grow up right, society will force frames of reference upon them, with which I will not be able to compete. I am worried that business and profit seem to be the only reasons people live today. Worried that there is no loyalty and no more honor in doing what you do for the betterment of humanity as opposed to the betterment of the bottom line.

Woz:
One of my own keys to happiness was discovering that I didn't have to conform to societal definitions of who I should be; as long as I knew why I was who I was and why I did what I did and why I believed in it and believed that it was the right way to be, I'd be happy. It's like an internal religion, something that I'll be very true to because it comes from me and not others.

Comment from E-mail:
I hope I do not sound silly, but at 26, the way things are going, I really don't see an end to hyper-commercialism, and the creation of the entertainment/retailing era that coming upon us. People no longer feel good unless they buy something. I don't know why, but it bothers me more and more.

Woz:
That's how some of us feel. But everyone is different. I don't believe that we can make our kids think this way. All we can do is try to set good examples. But people that are in it for the money rewards are not bad, they're just different.

Comment from E-mail:
Enough ranting.... here are my questions...

Was it different 20 years ago? When you were building this great little machine, why did you build it? Did you intend to become rich off it, or did you just build it for the sake of learning more and providing something greater for the rest of the people to see and use?

Woz:
I was just doing what I always did in my life, constructing impressive and useful electronic tools. I had no plans to start a company, just to show technology to others and to help them advance with it. The company came about later. I didn't feel guilty about a company until it started looking like big money. I still wonder why I was so richly rewarded for things that I enjoyed doing for free. But I don't have to feel guilt since I couldn't really do much about it.

Comment from E-mail:
Where do you see this absurd commercialism taking us twenty years from now?

Woz:
I think that this sort of commercialism has always been with us and always will. How do you attack it when today's heroes are results of it? Clearly the past, like the steel ages in the U.S., must have been similar.

Comment from E-mail:
Did you ever think that the Mac OS would eventually have advertisements real estate placed within software modules (banner ads in sherlock)?

Woz:
No. But it makes sense. Every magazine we buy (almost) has ads. We grew up loving our great free TV with ads. For a while the Internet looked better, but it has to play to the lowest common denominator, to those that can't pay much for it.

Comment from E-mail:
Do you ever think that we as a culture of "consumers" have gone too far?

Woz:
I don't ever think about this. I don't think it's inefficient or unproductive. I think that we probably have better products because of it. Consumers should rule though, and should always have good technical support and relief when things don't work. The problem is like the used car salesman. We can be deceived into a lot of things that we thought were more or that we really didn't want. So I guess that we haven't gone too far, but that there should be stronger ethics enforced on the providers, the ones that get paid cash for products.

Comment from E-mail:
Thanks for your time, and thanks for being a great person. Tough to find these days.


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