INSITEVIEW- - tom shugart's weblog

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Commencin' and Tripppin'

OK. I’m returned from a short jaunt back to the Midwest to attend the graduation of my niece from the University of Illinois—and to get in some family schmoozing time.

Commencement addresses are usually rather boring affairs, but this one had something different--a guy under 30 giving the address. How does a lad of 28 land such an honor? By being a co-developer of PayPal and co-founder of YouTube, and having a billion bucks or so, some of which you can bet has the University scheming for future endowments.

Which is to take nothing away from the accomplishments of Illinois alum, Jawed Karim, who received the outstanding achievement award for alumni under 40. (no duh!) and was invited to give the address. It was a pleasant surprise, and Karim, to his credit, gave a fairly good speech.

Christine Hurt, a U of I Law Prof, provides this account, saving me the trouble:
Karim's speech was great. It was short, it was funny, and it had video clips. He advised students to always be open to opportunity and to take risks while you can (like leaving college while still young to try something brand new). He apologized for ruining their gpa's by inventing YouTube! He was self-deprecating when reminding students that things don't work right away. In 1997, Karim's application to the University of Illinois' computer science department was rejected. He wrote a letter asking them to reconsider, which they did. (I would like to see a copy of this letter. I've seen letters from law school candidates asking for their admissions decisions to be reconsidered, and they generally only confirm initial judgments!) He also talked about how lame YouTube was in the beginning until users started uploading their own videos -- a concept that the founders had not envisioned.

The funniest line of the speech came when Karim explained that YouTube was launched on February 14, 2005. I am paraphrasing, but he said something akin to: 'One of the best things about being a computer science major is that Valentine's Day is just like any other day.'

(Thanks to Kevin O'Keefe of LexBlog for the pointer. Kevin's lengthy blogroll, btw, has Denise Howell way down near the bottom. Hey, Kev, she practically started the whole law blog thing. Doesn't she belong at the top?)

I started reading David Weinberger's latest book, "Everything is Miscellaneous," on the trip. As you might imagine, very insightful, provocative, original, and humorous--the usual Weinbergian cocktail. I doubt that I'll put up a review. It's a bit out of my league, which is not to say it's dense--not at all. It's just that my ventures into the art of criticism have not gone beyond the realm of popular culture (I've made a few contributions to BlogCritics Magazine). I'm probably wise to leave it that way--although maybe I could submit something along the lines of "Why 'Everything Is Miscellaneous' Matters to Average Joe." But does anyone care?

Anyway, getting my butt out to the Weinberger book signing and informal talk was a shot in the arm. I wish my ol' bloggin' buddy Frank could have been there. He would have loved it. (Speaking of Paynter the Prolific, do catch his current post with the early Grateful Dead video).

Thanks to Ronni Bennet for chiming in with a supportive comment. And thanks also to Jeneane for the encouragement. Good to hear from both of you guys!

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home