The dialogue recorded below occurred during the opening months of the year 2013. My friend K informed me that the conversation took place on the last remaining patch of neutral ground in Silicon Valley. K was sitting in the corner booth of a retro burger joint on the intersection of Blossom Road and Meridian Avenue near San Jose. While he waited for his order to arrive, five guys walked in all at once. K recognized them immediately and watched in disbelief as the most powerful men in Silicon Valley took their places in the booth across from where he was sat.
Mr A, was a tall thin man, wearing a black turtleneck, his face covered in salt and pepper stubble. He was sitting next to Mr G, a middle aged man wearing peculiar spectacles and staring off into the middle distance with inexplicable intensity. Mr M was an elderly gentleman, sitting quietly, inspecting the menu with a look that danced somewhere between disgust and disappointment. Mr S, who sat directly opposite Mr A was a youthful looking Korean gentleman. Sitting very upright, he stared fixedly across the table at Mr A. Mr F was the last to take his place in the booth. None of the other men acknowledged his arrival. A waitress came by after a long silence and the first of many rounds of coffees was ordered. K tells me that it would be impossible to recount everything he had overheard that day and into that long night. But as these men sat and discussed the future of the human race over burgers, fries and piping hot slices of apple pie, my friend K sat in front of his half eaten burger and listened. What I am going to share with you now, is just one part of that epic. An excerpt that I have decided to publish under the heading: ‘The Dialogue of K & the Kings of Silicon Valley’ I hope that I have paid due respect to those men and to my dear friend K in this recital.
The Dialogue of K & the Kings of Silicon Valley
The waitress came around again with a pot of jet black coffee. She was waved off by all but Mr S and Mr G who signalled that he would like a top-up. While the waitress leant across the table with her pot of coffee Mr A picked up where he had left off in his dialogue with Mr M.
‘So you finally, realize the importance of the mobile platform, too bad you are five years too late’. Mr A was looking smug and Mr M chagrined by the insult. At that point Mr G interjects so as to break the tension.
‘You know it is an interesting topic. I had a question put to me recently by one of the board members. The guy knows nothing about technology and was complaining about how the website he was trying to look at was different on his phone compared to his PC’. Mr G was waving his spoon around and heaping sugar into his black coffee while he spoke. ‘It got me thinking, that the current shift towards hand held mobile devices is just the newest development in the way the human race communicate. And that it was kind of interesting to see all of these old websites trying to adapt.’ Mr G finished tipping his fifth heaped teaspoon of sugar into his coffee and began stirring it erratically. ‘You see, it’s all about the medium. Before there were mobile devices people advertised on standard websites. Before that there was just TV, newspapers, magazines, flyers, handbills, billboards or radio. And before that they would have people shouting in the street. My point being that if you give someone a medium, they will try and use it to sell something.’ At this point Mr M broke in.
‘I am not sure what you are driving at. Surely it couldn’t have come to you as a surprise that mobile phones and tablets are the dominant advertising medium of the moment.’
‘Ah, yes. But just as you say, they are the dominant medium of this very moment. But not necessarily of the next moment.’ Mr G was grinning into his sickly sweet coffee. ‘You see, we have created a new medium, each of us has contributed in our own way towards creating that new medium. Now what my half-witted friend allowed me to realize is that, even though it is important for business to advertise effectively via not only standard websites but now also mobile websites. Soon there will be new mediums, possibly ones that become of even greater importance than anything in the e-mobile environment.’ Mr S cleared his throat abruptly before addressing Mr G.
‘I feel that you are overstating the likely hood of such an advance taking place. I do however accept your logic. But this does not change the fact that our current priority is to communicate optimally via the mediums currently at our disposal. On this point I feel you are being too critical of your board member, as he was right to express frustration at any website not taking into account the medium by which the vast majority of its viewers will be accessing it.’ All heads immediately turned towards, Mr G who was not the least taken aback and sitting ready with a response.
‘You raised some salient points to which I will not debate. But I will say that I can easily imagine a world where any one of us here at this table could be in the position of M over there. Any one of us could fail to capitalize on the next great change in the dialectic of communication. Today it’s phones, tomorrow glasses, after that my friend the board member, might not be complaining about why his website doesn’t work properly on his mobile device, but rather why his favourite websites crummy advertisements are keeping him up all night in his dreams.’ Before Mr M could protest at having been used as an example Mr F cut in.
‘That’s a scary thought, but I agree with Mr S, we are going to be dealing with mobile technology for a long time yet. I can personally vouch for the necessity of having your site be available to the e-mobile environment. My own greatest success was to fuse social networking and e-mobile technology. That success has been extremely profitable for nearly everyone at this table.’ Mr F finished specking and was met by hostile, looks. Mr M was first to speak.
‘You F were just lucky. I don’t even know why you are here. Mr G and his cronies, or the next teenager with some spare time on their hands are likely to come up with the next social fad and you won’t even be a blip in history.’ Mr A was smirking to himself and Mr G holding back convulsive laughter. ‘What Mr S was saying, was that it is important that when launching websites, people need to be mindful that they are working with new mediums of communication. They should try and be engaged in the development of that new medium. Equally as engaged as those they are expecting to view it.’ Mr S listened politely, but gave no sign that he agreed with what was being said. ‘You see back when we were first working with the internet commercially, most of the people involved were technical. They weren’t interested in communicating with people effectively. But to steal a phrase from Mr G, the dialectic of the internet turned it into a much more immersive place wherein communications has become extremely effective.’ Mr A broke in.
‘By communication, you mean advertisement I take it.’ His face contorted into a cynical pout.
‘Yes I suppose’, Mr M continued. ‘What I am trying to get at is that e-mobile is still going through its development stage. The dialectic is continuing. People are finding better ways of communicating with one another through mobile devices. And it’s only a matter of time before browsing on the internet is just as effective a marketing platform as it is when viewed from a desktop.’ Mr G sighed into his plate of soiled napkins and apple pie crumbs.
‘Everything comes down to money and marketing in the end with you lot doesn’t it. I thought we could keep things conceptual. Your right though. Most of my browsing is done via the phone these days, but I wouldn’t buy anything from an e-commerce website on my phone because it has taken years for me to become comfortable with doing it on a desktop. Never the less I would still expect that any ecommerce website to let me browse their store on my phone even if I wait until I am at a desktop to make the purchase. We are definitely in an awkward crossover stage, which is going to become even more difficult as people are forced to not only launch websites that work on desktops, but also phone, tables, spectacles, watches and anything else we haven’t thought of making yet. But what I was trying to say before was that if Joe Blo, wants to make a website his consideration shouldn’t be: I need to create a website that is compatible with e-mobile devices. It should be: I need to have something to communicate that can be shared effectively via every medium available to me at this time.’ Mr A broke in at that point.
‘You really do get worked up over the obvious don’t you?’
‘Oh, go try and patent another rectangle A.’ Retorted Mr G.
At that point the waitress came back around to their table with another pot of tar black coffee and asked if anyone would like another order. Mr S ordered a fresh round of coffees for the table and a slice of pecan pie for himself. My friend K continued listening in still silence on into the night. As if a single sound from his booth, the slightest clink of his coffee-cup might frighten this strange scene out of existence.