Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Abraham Lincoln and his axe

A vastly underrated quote of Abraham Lincoln's: "If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend the first four hours sharpening the axe".

Just to state the obvious, the axe is a tool to perform what you have to do. Since the entire human race, including those living in underdeveloped states like Myanmar, has shifted in varying degrees to the information age, I can probably define the axe as `something which helps me do what I have to do faster, better and cheaper'.

I spend an inordinate amount of time sharpening my axe. In my first year at law school, I sharpened my axe till the eve of my exams for Criminal Law, and flunked it. At work, I spend almost all my time sharpening my axe.

But now, with websites like Lifehacker and a ton of like `productivity blogs' around, I find like minded souls, and I spend even more time, if it's possible to sharpen my axe. Trouble is, there seems to be almost no limit to how sharp the axe can be.

So now, I can do a whole lot of things much faster, better and easier than many of my contemporaries. I google faster, I use the spreadsheet faster, I populate the spreadsheet from the database faster. Drawing resources from experts like programmers, and other hackers, and a veritable network of friends and `productivity bloggers', the rate of sharpening is speeding up.

So much so that, in the last 6 months, I feel the gulf between the guys with sharp axes and less keen blades, has widened tremendously. More than it has for the last 3 years. I have no concrete reasons on `why' but I speculate it's because Eric Schmidt, the boss of Google, works harder than Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Yes, in my mind, Google has driven the industry and provided it with all the catalysts for growth. Google has, by design, taken the stuffy corporate spin out of the web, and replaced it with fun. Witness their blogs - it goes something like:

Well, Google XXX has always prided itself on 2 principles:

1) Our integration of XXX with our great search engine, synergies (blah blah serious corporate stuff) and
2) Our love for jellybeans in Oreo cookies mashed with Ice Cream (fun stuff)

It's their great expertise at the mind game which is screwing Microsoft more than any other. And it's screwing all those suits at Oracle too. Make that, suits everywhere. What the hell do you wear a suit for if a bunch of fun loving kids at Mountain View earn US$800M a quarter and have fun at it? They put the emphasis on STUFFY in stuffy suits.

I'm not here to judge how genuine the fun is at google. What I have to say is that they're doing a damn good job. They put the T-shirts back at Silicon Valley.

Oh and why am I talking about google? Because, the web services which google made so powerful and attractive and fun, has done a helluva lot to sharpen my axe lately. Searches have become better. People are dying to beat google at the game, and labels and tags have given information a whole new dimension. Countless new dimensions. Information quality has improved greatly just because of the new ways to categorize it.

The bottom line: I got this blog to test Blogger Beta, but they didn't allow me to transfer my other blogs to the beta yet, and forced me to register a new name. Since I had this in mind for a long time already, almost 3 months, so I decided to register a new blog.

I don't know whether I have time to fill in this blog past this introduction, but if I do, I hope you get something outta it. I'm gonna show you how I sharpened my axe.


Money , Music 'n' NLU !!! said...

great blog entry...especially the first three paragraphs..ive shared identical experiences- sharpening the axe and flunking law exams..sharpening the axe at work..great stuff!

it is true, this quote is extremely underrated. If ppl actually applied it in their lives, the world would completely change ;)

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