Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Engineers Rule -- Again?

I could not resist a quick comment on a 1/16 article in Wired on "How Yahoo Blew It" (via the Boston Globe's Business Filter).

The article concludes, "At Yahoo, the marketers rule, and at Google the engineers rule. And for that, Yahoo is finally paying the price."

As a former Digital employee, I found this highly ironic: being an engineering-driven company was exactly what was usually blamed for DEC going down, down, and finally out.

"And the seasons, they go round and round...", in Joni's words.

Is quoting a lyricist too cheesy? Okay, then, how about Sir Isaac Newton, the inventor of gravity? As Newton's Second Law of Psychics states, "What goes around, comes around."
(...Excuse me, I'm getting a call from the Editor; just continue reading, and I'll get back to you with whatever little copy edits he might have. "What is it now? Can't you see I'm busy!?")
(Back to the serious part --)
Last summer, I went to a groundbreaking at Gordon College where Ken Olsen was being honored by naming their new science building after him. I got close enough to watch as a steady stream of his former employees came up to express their heartfelt appreciations to him, and got to see the flash in his eyes. So only then, since he was gone from Digital by the time I worked there, I felt like I got to see who Ken Olsen really was.

But I sure got to hear a lot about him from the old DEC people who were still there, and the story was told that when he came into the company cafeteria, he'd pass by all the execs and go have lunch with... the engineers.

That stuff about Google people getting a day a week to work on their own projects? That's exactly what was going on at Digital in its heyday, and it all came from Ken.

Ken Olsen, in 1972
(from, a site by and for loyalists)

No comments: