April 3, 2012

Letter to the Editor: Why Entrepreneurship Isn’t Everything

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To the Editor:

Re: “Unlearning School” Opinion, April 2In the recent article “Unlearning School,” Harry DiFrancesco makes yet another impassioned argument for being more of a go-getting, Zuckerberg-worshipping entrepreneur who reads Steve Jobs’ biography in between starting a string of successful companies.OK, no, he doesn’t. Not really. However, there is some truth in my implied criticism, since what DiFrancesco does do is equate “intrinsically motivated” with “entrepreneurial,” something that seems to happen all the time. Our culture seems totally ga-ga over these entrepreneurs, like Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook; Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft; and Steve Jobs, all-powerful demigod. And I do agree that they deserve respect, since they did do amazing things and they each have more money than the entirety of my family, and probably the entirety of your family, has, put together.Now lets talk about what they didn’t do, taking Steve Jobs as an example. Steve Jobs wasn’t an “inventor,” per se. He took a bunch of stuff other people had already made, worked with someone who knows way more about computers than he did and made products that are sleek, shiny and easy to use. And before a bunch of design school folk knock my door down, I’d like to say that that’s great. We need people like that, since I don’t really want to get a degree in electrical engineering to operate my toaster.But we also need people like Dennis Ritchie, who was not an entrepreneur, founded no companies, died the same month that Steve Jobs, praised-be-his-name, did and got zilch recognition outside the weekly operating-systems-geek lunch in Upson. But without Ritchie, Jobs couldn’t have done jack-diddly. Ritchie helped to invent the C programming language and the UNIX operating system, upon which all of Apple’s accomplishments, all of Microsoft’s accomplishments and in fact every computer ever depends. Without Ritchie, there are no modern computers. Without Jobs, we spend more time staring at the Blue Screen of Death.The point of this seemingly-endless tirade is this: Enough with the entrepreneurial crap. I would totally agree with everything DiFrancesco said in his article if he had only gotten rid of that over-used word, since all he was really saying was, “Hey, let’s do stuff because it’s cool, not because of a prelim.” I’m just not sure why “intrinsically motivated” needs to automatically translate to “found a startup.”

Andrew Hoelscher grad