There was a fascinating story on 60 Minutes a few months ago. It was an interview with Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter. You can watch the video here. It provides yet another example of how studying Computer Science equips you to be the among the best and brightest innovators and entrepreneurs.
It all starts with a good idea, one that can take its inspiration from anywhere. For Dorsey, inspiration came from emergency dispatch systems. You’ll see in the video that what captivated him about these systems was that the emergency providers communicated only in short bursts. However, by collecting all this information, patterns would emerge, and decisions could be made. Those short bursts were the genesis of Twitter.
Dorsey’s start came from computer programming and from keeping his eyes open to the world around him. What’s exciting to me is that our students will all have the programming part. Entrepreneurship and innovation come from combining that with a sense of what is going on and what is needed in the world around you. Our students are uniquely qualified to create the next big thing. They have the skills; they just need to open their eyes.
Some believe entrepreneurship is a business study. That could not be more misguided. People with business skills are valued, of course, to keep the financial engine of the enterprise humming along. That is no small task. But they usually aren’t the ones who come up with that next-big-thing idea, nor can they implement it. Techies like our Computer Science students have both the antennae to pick up on the ideas and the skills to build them into reality. Talk about your classic revenge of the nerds! That’s entrepreneurism.
There is another really interesting aspect of this video. Dorsey likens software development to the Golden Gate bridge. Like that historic piece of architecture, the best software can be described in terms of its simplicity, beauty, and functionality. Coders describe this as “elegance”. Elegant code is simple, concise, clear, and extensible, Elegant code makes brilliant ideas sing. Computer Scientists need to write code that would make fine Corinthian leather turn green with envy. That takes practice, but you know it when you see it – just like you know when you’ve stumbled upon the next big thing.
So, innovate, Computer Scientists! Show those business folks who’s boss.