Great piece in the Times on a fellow who made his name hacking the wii remote and talking about it on YouTube. Now he’s at Microsoft, after being wooed by nearly everyone.
Contrast this with what might have followed from other options Mr. Lee considered for communicating his ideas. He might have published a paper that only a few dozen specialists would have read. A talk at a conference would have brought a slightly larger audience. In either case, it would have taken months for his ideas to reach others.
Small wonder, then, that he maintains that posting to YouTube has been an essential part of his success as an inventor. “Sharing an idea the right way is just as important as doing the work itself,” he says. “If you create something but nobody knows, it’s as if it never happened.”
But it made me wonder if he’s going to be happy there. A very long time ago, I read a ton of search papers (as part of prep for the book) and noticed they were all pretty old, and that once academics got hired by Google or competitors to Google, they sort of stopped innovating out loud.
Just a thought.
5 thoughts on “Yes, But Now That He’s At Microsoft, Can He Keep Giving It Away For Free?”
This reminds me of the question: “Is that a bug or a feature?”
Twitter is one way that innovation leaks out past the perimeter defenses. wrt youTube, shades of “Wayne’s World” – or was that Wayne’s World 2?
Of course he’ll be happy, it’s a big step up for him. As for his innovations making a big splash to the public, he can say goodbye to those days.
It sounds darker than it really is, but the truth is that Microsoft now owns his ideas.
A very long time ago, I read a ton of search papers (as part of prep for the book) and noticed they were all pretty old, and that once academics got hired by Google or competitors to Google, they sort of stopped innovating out loud.
John, we’ve had some pretty vocal discussions about this in the past (mid-to-late 2006):
FWIW, my own personal observation is that both Microsoft and Yahoo not only allow, but encourage, their researchers to continue publishing. Maybe not every single thing that they do, but at the academic conferences, both MS and Yahoo are well represented. Since 2006, when we first had this discussion, I’ve noticed a slight growth from Google.. there is a little bit more publication than there used to be. But Google largely remains a black hole. And if you look at all the papers that they claim to publish, it seems most of it is work done by new research hires, where most of the work happened before getting hired at Google, and the paper itself came out after they joined Google. I.e.: Not Google research.
Google does seem to be changing, though very slowly. It’s just not in their DNA.
That was very interesting! I think he made the right choice and now a lot of people know about his innovations.