The Candy Apple
Changing the World, One Piece at a Time
I was reading Scientific American in the airport the other day. It’s my favorite magazine for such situations, because it is written for the educated non-specialist. You can either skim an article, or read it in depth if it’s in a topic you understand. The magazine covers lots of different fields, so the odds are good that there’s something everyone can follow. I finally broke down and subscribed to the magazine, but I will miss the airport SA experience. Now, I guess, the fitness magazines will have to fill the gap.
SA closed the year with its second annual feature on the year’s 50 greatest contributions to research, business, and policy making. Included in that group were Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, but for different reasons. Jobs was saluted as innovative in business, as the iPod and iTunes Music Store combo has finally started the move towards legal, consumer-driven digital music purchases. We are actually there, although not as far along as we will be in another six months or so. We have wanted this for a long time; I remain in want, as I have not yet made the switch to OS X, but that’s my choice and I won’t whine about it. The remaining few record companies will have to board this train pretty soon, as CD sales are slipping while online purchases rise. As long as the music sells, they shouldn’t care what format it sells in.
Gates made the list in the “Public Health and Epidemiology” category, as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation made substantial contributions to global health care efforts. His company is the bloated, unresponsive, squish-everybody-else New York Yankees of the computing world, but at least he understands that when you have more money than you know what to do with, you give away a lot of it. Congratulations to Gates for getting this part right.
The selections of Jobs and Gates remind us of the very different ways in which we can make the world a better place. We can choose to buy music in legal ways, and refuse to copy it for profit or other unethical uses. We can do the same with software, movies, and all our stuff. Someone worked hard to make that song or game or movie; why would anyone refuse that artist their due compensation?
The other way we can make the world a little better is by contributing to something larger than ourselves. Many people already do this, with donations to organizations of all kinds, that help people in all sorts of ways. If you don’t yet do so, consider looking for a way to help someone else, with either your money or, even better, your time. Money is good. It makes transactions of all sorts possible. Your time is even more valuable than money. Money buys time, but time that is given is worth even more. If you sacrifice an hour to donate blood, or half a day to help clean cages at the animal shelter, those are unique contributions no one could make but you.
We can make the world a little bit better, a little bit at a time. We wish we could make it all better right away, but we have limited spheres of influence. We have to start somewhere and what better place to start than in our own neighborhoods.
Also in This Series
- On Temptation · July 2010
- Beyond Pen Pals · July 2007
- Just Because We Can Do a Thing, Does Not Mean We Should Do a Thing · March 2006
- Google Tells Big Brother to Take a Hike · February 2006
- Wikipedia Is Not the Lovefest We Thought · January 2006
- Star Trek Gadgets Have Arrived · December 2005
- The Silver Screen Keeps Shrinking · October 2005
- It’s Just Business · July 2005
- Age Has Its Advantages · June 2005
- Complete Archive