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December 02, 2006

Woz at Politics and Prose

  Originally uploaded by easement.

The Woz spoke at Politics and Prose two weeks ago to promote his new book, iWoz, and since this was the night before leaving for Thanksgiving on Nantucket with my cousins, I haven’t had a chance to post about the event.

I’ve heard Woz before thanks to the 2600 crew interviewing him and knew some of his history, mostly the hacking (blue boxes and phone phreaking) and pranking stories, so to hear him describe his childhood and early computing work was fascinating. He likes to have fun and he’s passionate about what he preaches, whether it was about playing pranks or about how technology can help change the world. He was humble and gave great pointers about how to make do with less (not having money or access to all of the newest computer chips, he studied electronics manuals and self-taught himself chip design by drawing out everything- because he couldn’t afford the physical parts to actually build the designs).

What did I learn?
Woz pursued activities that he was passionate about and didn’t worry about if other people recognized the value: designing electronics on paper, while still in high school, was what he liked to do even though no one else would understand it or appreciate it. He used scarce resources to his advantage by creating the most efficient systems possible, reducing chips and saving power whenever possible. Here's a video from an earlier Woz book tour stop, with Guy Kawasaki interviewing him.

Use your limitations or scarce resources to your advantage because they can make your designs, products, or services more efficient and beautiful than if you had everything at your fingertips. See Jason Fried's "Small is Beautiful" presentation for more details.


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