Yesterday, during a jog that was much too arduous for the distance traveled, I listened to an interview featuring Blake Irving, the CEO of GoDaddy (you can find it here — I wouldn’t be writing about it if it wasn’t good). This man, who sports a Daddy Warbucks bald head and a soul patch — a questionable piece of facial hair that has probably never been in style — has done a lot.
That’s an understatement.
Blake, which is what I call him because we’re soon-to-be best buds (a relationship of which he’s currently blissfully ignorant), hopped between product development and engineering roles at Microsoft, then had a stint at Yahoo!, and finally ended up as the CEO of GoDaddy. An impressive resume, to say the least. He also skateboards and plays the drums. Don’t you want to hang out with this guy? Yea, me too.
Anyway, he was asked about the favorite product he worked on throughout his career, and he started talking about MSN Messenger. Though you could probably come up with a valid argument that any era of the Internet has been pretty damn fascinating, the late 90’s into the early 2000’s were a particularly important time. Google was just becoming a thing, and AOL had introduced to the world a new way to communicate — instant messenger. This platform likely played a pretty big role in how you would ask out that cute girl in your Social Studies class that you wouldn’t dare talk to in person, brand yourself as a *huge* N’Sync fan by posting lyrics as away messages, and first learn how incredibly powerful the World Wide Web was at making you waste unthinkable amounts of time. To illustrate that last point, I’m in a public library writing this. I see a man watching YouTube videos on how to execute trick shots in Billiards, another guy watching Cutting Crew music videos (yea, that one), and I just walked past a computer with a man researching “10 Actors Who Always Die Onscreen”.
Back to the main point. It wasn’t just the MSN Messenger product that he found so important, but a single feature — typing indicator. With the typing indicator, which we now consider second nature (it’s those three dots you see in iMessage, for example), you were able to tell when the person with whom you were having a conversation was responding. In essence, MSN Messenger introduced listening to the Internet. This was a big deal! Before typing indicator, conversations became fuddled messes of confusion — you writing your friend, waiting for their reply but having no idea whether or not he or she was at the other end of the line, then either writing some more or closing the chat box. When they did respond, a lot of times it was to a point that you brought up 6 lines of text ago. After typing indicator, you could actually see that your friend was responding, so you could wait to see what he or she said before continuing with your diatribe of how big a jerk Jimmy was to Samantha at the last school dance (“Yea, I know Samantha just got braces, Jimmy. That doesn’t mean it was right of you to ask Kimberly to dance with you every time the Goo Goo Dolls came on.”). This changed the game. Typing indicator is now a commonplace feature to the many chat apps on the market, and probably for the better.
Conversations are good. They allow us to expand our minds, understand others’ points of view, empathize with the people we care about, learn about new things. Message boards? They can do that, too. But do they? Looking around the Internet, it’s not often that you find intelligent back-and-forth between people. Often, these forums are marred with hurtful language and opinions propagated by the safety of hiding behind the veil of a username and unidentifiable avatar. There is so much we can offer the world when we open ourselves to listening and understanding, but a lot of times we take the low road, only offering the most extreme opinion of the topic at hand. It’s the Wild West out there in Message Board Land and, boy, the nights spent in the desert sure can be cold.
With Trendendo, we built a hub for you to vote on the things you feel strongly about. We love our opinions — they truly shape who we are as people. Opinions aren’t an inherently bad construct…promoting your opinions with ignorance and hate is bad. That’s why Trendendo is for voting, discovering, and ranking. We don’t have a message board feature. Humans were created with mouths and ears — so we can talk to each other! So go ahead — spark some debate. But, please, do it in a way that encourages conversation and intelligence rather than opinionated B.S. We all know this world can benefit from it.
P.S. By the way, that run I was talking about earlier? 3.68 miles in 31:48. That’s a Bolt-esque pace of 8:38/mile. Tokyo 2020 is just 4 years away. See you soon, Eastern Hemisphere.