Bill Gates: The Udell Interview

Dan Farber offers high praise for Jon Udell’s recent podcast interview with Bill Gates, saying that “it really shows the geeky Gates, and is one of the better interviews I have read/heard in covering Gates for more than two decades.” I agree (though I haven’t been following Gates for two decades yet myself). I listened to the podcast and enjoyed exchanges like this one (a big thanks to Jon for putting up a transcript — but you should listen anyway because a transcript doesn’t do justice to the palpable geeky excitement in Gates’ voice):

JU: Yeah, somebody had a nice quote that RSS is the human face on Web services. I kind of like that a lot and related to that is something that I’ve said a few times, which is that human beings are the exception handlers in all workflows. And so…

BG: Absolutely. That’s a really good way of capturing something I was saying about the boundary between structured and unstructured. Eventually you’ve got to know who in what role and how to communicate to them, because if software could just talk to software, we could get rid of all the humans. Everything that’s real, eventually there’s a human involved in. And there is a little bit of tension between very interpretive, simple-to-create stuff, like REST or POX, and very structured, tight stuff like Web services. And if the industry is smart, we can get the best of both worlds, where things that are not very complex, you just want to go get a stock quote, a weather thing, fine. Use REST. Even, you know, go to Wordpad and type in the ugly URL.

If this interview was a book, it would be much closer in spirit to an O’Reilly title than the relative fluff we got from Bill Gates in The Road Ahead, a book that surely helped thousands of businessmen achieve deep sleep on airplanes back in the day.

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