Wednesday, May 14

The Quote of the Week

I thought it was the quote of the week—maybe the month—maybe the year!

It was back in 1990s and it came from Paul Sagan.

Paul started out as a news writer at WCBS in 1981. When I first met him we were both news directors at CBS O-and-Os. I was at WCIX (now WFOR) in Miami, he had worked his way up to the top job at WCBS, the flagship station.

Not long after that he left to work for Time Warner, first on their "News on Demand" project, then to spearhead development of NY 1 News, the Manhattan-based cable news network. He was the driving force behind the first uses of digital technology for local news, and pioneered "one-man-band" news gathering on video, the first time something that had been done in teeny-tiny markets in the film days had been brought to big city, big-time news gathering. So when it was announced that he would be in Miami to talk about new technologies and the news, a big crowd turned out for the event.

When it came time for the Q-and-A, the first questioner started by saying something like, We've all been dying to speak to you, because you're pioneering new technologies in this business...

And Sagan cut him off, saying, basically, Please don't ever call me a pioneer. I don't want to be on the cutting edge. I don't want to be the first to try anything.

And then this exact quote:
"Remember, pioneers get the arrows; settlers get the land."
Today we talk about "first adopters:" the first person with a new iPod, the first one with an iPhone, the first with a BlackBerry, or Bluetooth, or WiFi, or BlueRay, the first with . . . whatever. Back in 1976, I was the first kid on my block with a home VCR: what else, a Sony BETA machine. We all remember how that worked out!

Sagan's point was, let someone else work out the kinks. Stick around for the second generation product, the one that someone else has tested. Wait until the bugs are worked out.
I don't know if Paul feels the same way today. Since 1998 he's been with an outfit called Akamai, whose slogan is "Powering a Better Internet." He's been President and CEO of Akamai since 2005. I looked at the company web site: looks pretty cutting-edge to me.

I still love the quote, though.

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