Steve Pilgrim's Radio Weblog : Out of the rat race and onto the web!
Updated: 6/5/2002; 12:35:32 AM.












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Wednesday, May 08, 2002

The Meaning of Life

Dave asks: Is business the purpose of our civilization, or does civilization have some other purpose that business supports? Do our lives have any meaning beyond that which we produce for sale, and that which we purchase for consumption?

Who is really qualified to answer such questions for other than themselves?

G.K. Chesterton said, "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience." Victor Frankl wrote Man's Search for Meaning to explain meaning when you become a number. His dehumanizing experience at Auschwitz gave him the answers.

Does the woman living in a cave in Afghanistan and sleeping in the dirt have the same life purpose as the woman who woke up in a 10,000 square foot home in the American suburbs, drove her SUV to drop her kids at private school, grabbed a $3.85 cup of coffee at the drive-thru window and rushed to her desk to work at 'getting more' today? Is daily survival a different life purpose from daily achievement or daily accumulation? Should the person waking to a shopping list for a week's worth of groceries have the same life meaning as the person who awoke hungry, but driven to find sustenance before dark?

Different people must answer Dave's questions in different ways. Influences often drive how we answer the question. Sometimes the answer feels different on different days. The fact is a life of simply earning more, buying more or selling more can get pretty futile.

Surely, at the end of our days, there should be more than the toys, the comfort and the luxury that we've accumulated for ourselves and those we care about. I cannot compartmentalize my life in such a way that 'the getting' is what I do on the job and life's meaning is something that happens at a different place, with other people or at a different time.

Regardless of religious background or persuasion, people need a plan, a place and a purpose. More often than not those are found in some area of service. I find that the periods in my life where I have not been serving others are the most miserable periods I've faced.

If civilization is to be defined as 'life as we know it,' then business, in all its forms, is a part of that. To say that our civilization has business as its purpose seems to fall short of 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.' It also falls short of any greater meaning that those who see themselves as spiritual beings might seek.

I'm reminded of the wealthy Texas oil baron who died somewhat unexpectedly in his 60's. Some weeks following the funeral, one sincere old friend asked his youthful widow, "how much did he leave?" Her reply was quick, "all of it." You just don't see any Wells Fargo trucks in funeral processions!

There's got to be something more!

12:12:31 PM     Comments[]

Up until now

this hadn't been a story that smelled all that bad. Clearly, the loan to Ebbers was questionable. Clearly, Worldcom has suffered through the downturn in telecom demand. Now, evidence of the cross-breeding that leads to some fairly odd-looking creatures may be showing! Warren Buffett has said, "you never know who's swimming naked until the tide goes out."

Ebbers Invested With WorldCom Board Member Who Approved Loan. Bernard J. Ebbers, the ousted WorldCom chief executive, reportedly made a big personal investment in a company associated with the board member who approved his controversial $366 million loan. By Stephanie Kirchgaessner and Richard Waters, [New York Times: Business]

10:23:45 AM     Comments[]

I wish I had 150,000 readers

In the last several days, as the news of Gartner's study was released, you just knew that Oracle would come out and complain. I have no idea who has sold the most database software, which company's software is used more or anything of the sort. I'm not sure Gartner knows. I'm not even sure IBM or Oracle can tell with a high degree of accuracy what they've sold. As Deming use to say, "It depends on who wants to know."

It so happens that my company sells and installs accounting and business management software. We've tried for almost a month to get a return call or a return email from an Oracle representative. This was after a national press release stating that Oracle wanted 100 new VAR's to sell their NetLedger software.

If I had readership, I'd be shouting so that all could hear! As it is, it doesn't matter enough to Oracle to call someone back who might be able to move some of their product, but they'll go into an all hands Defcon4 to whine about a Gartner finding. Ain't it grand?

Oracle disputes database rankings. The software maker is challenging a study by Gartner Dataquest that says Oracle has lost ground to IBM in the database market. [CNET]

10:13:04 AM     Comments[]

Writing With a Slant or an Angle

What's your angle? It's 1950 and a suited reporter with a cloud of cigarette smoke hovering around his face has just leaned into a fellow reporter's cloud to find out what his slant on a breaking story is going to be.

This scene must have been repeated 1001 times in the movies and television shows. Even recent entertainment has shown a modern version of the same scene.

The best of these scenes made it clear that the slant or angle had nothing to do with bias or predisposition. Instead, your slant was your hypothesis. The reporter's method was somewhat like the scientific method. Facts were facts. Each one either supported the hypothesis or refuted it.

Journalists lose that title when they abandon the scientific method. When all the facts are gathered and they use only the ones that support their original hypothesis, well, that's not journalism. That's something much more like an op-ed piece. In fact, I've begun watching the mainstream media always checking to see whose opinion I'm reading or listening to.

There's a difference in a journalist - one who uses a methodology similar to the scientific method and a writer who may simply be providing his or her opinion. Definitions are important. Slants and angles of today mean something different from those in the smoke-filled rooms of the distant past.

9:34:04 AM     Comments[]

Protecting Your Business

Here's the scenario: your company has found a way to run its primary business management/accounting software via the web. You've found a host , you've moved the software and data, you've got the bandwidth and everyone is happy. No more internal servers, no more network to manage, just a bunch of PC's connected to a fat pipe.

Your professionally managed host has sophisticated network management skills and you are confident in your decision to move everything off site. Then, one day you learn that someone has bought your host. The email indicates that you'll experience no disruption of service, etc.

Here's the question: what if something happens to your host? What arrangements should you make for a daily, weekly, monthly copy of your data? Should you and the host agree that a tape is going to the lockbox every Friday night? What if the host is in another city? Do you want a tape delivered via FedEx each Monday morning? Can you catch up from a week-old tape?

Who do you trust and how much do you trust? The outsourced ASP model is an attractive concept. Do you trust it with the total financial and information base of your company?

IBM touts new backup services. Big Blue is set to announce the new service, which will allow companies to get their computer systems back up and running quickly in the case of a disaster. [CNET]

8:42:23 AM     Comments[]

Weblog Income?

What's to stop someone from setting up the necessary scripts(?) in a weblog to sell tools from the site? What's to prevent someone from charging a subscription fee to certain categories on their site? Couldn't you have free categories and pay-per-view categories?

"People are writing really, really good tools like Jon Udell's title stuff, Mark P's stapler, Paolo's design tools and more.  Right now people are giving them away but what if they want to make money from them?"  [The FuzzyStuff Weblog]

8:30:56 AM     Comments[]

How long

will it take for everyone to realize that HP OWNS Compaq? No matter what is said or done in the short run, HP prevailed. As big as the Compaq name has been for close to 20 years, it's not likely to survive much longer.

Hewlett-Packard and Compaq unveiled the newly merged company, outlining a sales plan for every product and naming sales teams. [Wall Street Journal]

7:23:23 AM     Comments[]

Demand - not debt - is the key!

WorldCom Seeks Big Loan. WorldCom is expected to borrow $2.65 billion from its banks as part of negotiations to rework the terms of its financings. By Riva D. Atlas and Barnaby J. Feder. [New York Times: Technology]

7:18:24 AM     Comments[]

HP name will be much more prominent!

Hewlett-Packard Announces New Leadership and Strategy. Seeking to project an image of decisiveness and synergy, Hewlett-Packard, freshly combined with Compaq, introduced its executive team and product strategy Tuesday. By John Markoff. [New York Times: Technology]

7:14:21 AM     Comments[]

Shooting BB guns at windows

The judge in the Microsoft case signaled that she is considering a proposal that would require major changes in the Windows design. [Wall Street Journal]

6:56:31 AM     Comments[]

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