1.17.2011

Day 16 - Someone Who Fascinates You And Why

This question is more complicated than it first appears. I'm not really all that great about picking things, and picking people is even more of a challenge. And then you have to write about who they are and what they've done to garner your attention and why the fascinate you so much... gah. Too much decision-making.

Pulling a name from a hat.

So Bill Gates then. Founder of Microsoft, one of the masters of Silicon Valley along with Steve Jobs, philanthropist. Love him or hate him, Bill Gates is a pretty cool guy - digs at personal hygiene aside.  Honestly, it wasn't enough for him to help revolutionize the computer world (if some of the actions Miscrosoft were, well, questionable), he had to go ahead a become this great charity-guy as well.

On the Things That Interest Me side of the Bill Gates equation, I recently read his book The Road Ahead in which he muses on the future of technology. It is a little lopsided in its portrayal of the tech world (if you were to read this in a tech vacuum you could almost believe that Microsoft was the only computer company out there), however a lot of what he has to say is both eye-opening and largely applicable today. Jobs gets a lot of credit for being a visionary, but I think that Gates deserves some recognition on that front as well.

One of the things that impresses me the most about Gates is his commitment to charity and philanthropy. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the worlds largest private foundation and is involved in relieving poverty, enhancing healthcare, and improving access to information technologies and education. One of the most interesting projects that they have started as a kind of sidebar to the Foundation is The Giving Pledge: an attempt to get the world's billionaires to pledge to give away the majority of their fortunes away either in life or in death. This is a project which they started with Warren Buffet, who has pledged to give away an astounding 99% of his fortune. Even if they can get a few of those wealthy who have committed to giving away their fortunes to actually do so, the potential impact of all those dollars is phenomenal. Forbes has a really interesting, if long, article on the whole shindig if you want more information, and I sincerely recommend reading it.

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