TIME’s Person of the Year: The American Soldier

I look forward to TIME’s selection every year. I had thought that they would pick Bush and Saddam this year. Here is their selection. “They swept across Iraq and conquered it in 21 days. They stand guard on streets pot-holed with skepticism and rancor. They caught Saddam Hussein. They are the face of America, its might and good will, in a region unused to democracy. The U.S. G.I. is TIME’s Person of the Year.”

Just in case one is interested, the complete list since 1927 is available. As a quick recap, here are the winners for the past 10 years:

2002: The Whistle-Blowers (Cynthia Cooper, Coleen Rowley, Sherron Watkins)
2001: Rudy Giuliani
2000: George Bush
1999: Jeff Bezos
1998: Bill Clinton/Kenneth Starr
1997: Andy Grove
1996: David Ho (AIDS researcher who pioneered treatment for deadly disease)
1995: Newt Gingrich
1994: John Paul II
1993: The Peacemakers (Mandela, De Klerk, Rabin and Arafat)

The Coming Golden Age of Videogames

A fascinatingly detailed article in the NYTimes on the emerging next era in entertainment. A quote by Bruno Bonnell, the French CEO of Atari:

[In the age of the caveman], they had two ways of entertainment. One was the chief of the tribe telling about the hunting of the day — how big the tiger’s teeth were, how brave this guy was when he went to hit the mammoth with the stick or whatever. And that was to impress the crowd. The fun, the thrills, were coming from this impression that you got from outside. Then they moved into painting on the cave walls, then writing stories, then the stories started moving, like cinema, and the cinema went to television. Still the same system. The media of impression.’

The second way of entertainment they had was to take two sticks, beat them together and dance around the fire. And here the thrill was not about being impressed but about expressing yourself. That moves into the invention of musical instruments, getting different emotions from different styles of music, growing the music experience into opera or whatever. And that really leads into the video game. Playing with a joystick is basically the same move as playing a piano; the thrill is not what you get from outside, but what you express from inside. Whether it’s a piano or a chessboard or a joypad, that’s your technology, and you express yourself through it.

Very often, people talk about the video-game business from a pure financial point of view. Numbers, percentages, market share, all those subjects — we don’t care. And the mass market, they don’t care either. What they want is to see if, at the end of the day, this form of entertainment is going to be a part of their life or not. The answer is yes. Big time.

The golden age of movies is gone. That’s it. It’s a fact. What they do today to survive is they multiply the special effects to catch up with what the kids want, because they’ve seen it in the incredible universes of these video games. It used to be, ‘Well, let’s make a movie and then make a video game version as a licensed product.’ The next step to this will be the collaboration between the stories, between the complexity of their stories and the personal expression of the video game. This product doesn’t exist yet, but it will. Think about this kind of game, where you’ll be in a kind of Star Wars environment, you’ll have X thousand people playing together at the same time; you could just spend your day watching the screen and waiting for the stories to happen, or else you can decide to enter the game and take your own little path, all in real time.

Israel’s focus on Nanotech

NYTimes writes about how Israel is working to get a leadership position in nanotechnology:

In the 1990’s, Israel established itself as a global center for technology, using an influx of Russian immigrant engineers and harnessing homegrown military technology to create thousands of software and Internet start-ups. The boom led to the creation of more than 100 Israeli technology companies that are traded on foreign stock exchanges, including 80 traded on Nasdaq.

Now Shimon Peres, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and a former prime minister, is trying to ensure Israel’s place in nanotechnology, the emerging science of matter measured in one-billionth of a meter.

With that goal in mind, Mr. Peres, who turned 80 in September, and his son, Chemi Peres, a venture capitalist, are aiming to raise some $300 million from American Jewish donors to ensure that Israel can become a global nanotechnology developer. Right now the Israeli government has about $150 million invested in nanotechnology research, according to Einat Wilf, managing director of the Israeli Nanotechnology Trust.

India too needs to look at specific verticals and build R&D hubs (with an additional D for Delivery). While the services boom is good, we need to look beyond to core technology innovation also.