I’m not normally one for speculation. There’s a really good reason I don’t play the stock market. I’m just not that great at playing what is essentially a “what if” game projected forward into the future. However, I do enjoy speculative History. Speculative History is where the world of “alternative history” novels spring from. Recently, I’ve run into two scenarios that got me thinking along these lines. The first, which actually helps setup the second, was a question posed by one of my students.
What would the world of computing technology look like if Jobs and Wozniak had not started Apple as a company?
This is an interesting area of speculation. Would the world of computing technology really have been markedly different without Apple? Would we enjoy a world filled with iPads, iPods, iPhones, and iMacs – just under a different brand and with a different operating system? The possibility is certainly there, but Steve Wozniak was asked a similar question on January 30th, 2013 at a talk with Georgia State University. The video can be found on YouTube here. Woz disputes the idea that the computing world would be significantly changed – but concedes that it would not look as it does now. At issue in the question is the significance of the Apple // computer versus that of the Apple I. Woz points out that the Apple I was never a copyright held by Apple, the motherboard was in the public domain, as he had intended for it to be. In the beginning, Jobs noted that they (the two Steves) could make money by putting together the motherboard for $20 and selling it for $40 to other members of the Homebrew Computing Group. The rest of the machine could be completed by these fellow computing enthusiasts. The times were significantly different, in comparison to today’s aggressively competitive entrepreneurial environment. The Apple // was the first copyrighted and commercial product that they had designed. Without this particular watershed moment, would the desktop computing revolution (as noted by Woz during the talk) have still occurred? Would it have happened later? If so, how much?? Or at all? Quite an interesting topic to think about – particularly if you are interested in computing History (which I am). And this doesn’t even begin to look at the influences of how Jobs and Wozniak got to the idea that this change in computing technology could affect social change.
This particular thought leads me over to a recent blog post by John Beckett entitled “Football, Crossroads, and Druids”. While John’s post is about excelling in your own Spiritual Path, he touched on the idea of the “crossroads”. Typically, when people hear about a crossroads, they think of a location where two roads cross one another. Utilizing this imagery, this is a place where a path diverges into three (and sometimes two – or even four or more) possible Paths to take. John’s post looked at the crossroads as a point where one’s skills and passion meet, which is also an interesting area to explore in the future. However, its the diverging Paths where a choice is made that I am exploring here.
I’ve written my fair share of programming flowcharts, as well as Decision Trees for Business Analysis. In both aspects, there come times where the user must make a choice. Left, Right, Straight, or Backup? Interestingly enough, its the smaller mundane choices that we make which can affect bigger decisions further down the line or even manipulate events to magnify that choice. The two Steves looked at the product that had been created by Woz – the Apple I – and realized that they could help out their fellow enthusiasts by creating the motherboard, while gaining a little profit for themselves. Their decision wasn’t about the money, it was about the item that they had created – and the possibilities that they realized could be created from it. At one point in the aforementioned video, Woz makes the comment that while he’s proud of the Apple // as a product – he has even more pride in the fact that the Apple // was the platform for hundreds of more companies to launch from. And that’s a point to consider.
Coming up, here in the DFW area, is the Pagan Pride Day (Oct 5th). The two years prior, there was no organization concerning this event – and thus none was held. Now, thanks to a handful of folks, this event is going to be held. What does it provide? A place to meet people with a similar mindset. A place to come together as a group of people in fellowship. A place where people can find out more about Paganism and the wide umbrella that it is within the concept of religious belief. A place to connect with others. Could it be a watershed moment for my local area – the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex? That’s possible. But here we start stepping into the world of future speculation, which – for me – is like playing the stock market. I know that the event will be taking place on October 5th. I’ve already blocked that time off for myself. I will be there. So will several other people I know. So will people I don’t know. The event is important enough to me, that I will volunteer to help out in whatever way is necessary. I want to see this succeed. But not for me. Nor for my blog here or for my podcast. I won’t even be advertising the existence of either while I am there. This isn’t about my blog or my podcast – this is about helping to make my community – my Pagan community – a little stronger, a little more communicative, and a little more cohesive.
Where would computing technology be without those first speculative steps taken by the Steves with the Apple I and the Apple // ? Its debatable to a point, but certainly our computing world would be different to some significant degree. Where will my local Pagan community be if people don’t participate and come out for the PPD? I’m not certain, but I’m willing to stand up and stand by the folks putting this together this year, and I plan on helping in any way that I can for the one next year, and the year after. I want to see this as a long-standing tradition in my community. And I’m willing to take the associated steps to help out. I’m just one, individual Pagan. So are you. Stand with me – that makes two…bring friends!!