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  • On a highway
    hypnotized by sun strokes
    passing by some dead bones
    flowers for the dead grow

    Transatlantic and transcontinental flight. BART, beach buggy, schoolbus.

    That's how we'd get to sleepy Sebastopol, for a weekend with The Oracle Of Silicon Valley, camping, as the Friends of O'Reilly.

    "SaulGriffith : Last minute offer, Driving large bus from East bay leaving 2-15 ish. If you can get to MacArthur bart or emeryville Call 415 225 3618"

    Surj and I rode the BART, from SFO to MacArthur station, named somewhat prophetically as years later Saul would be inducted into the MacArthur Fellows, awarded a 'genius grant'. Saul scooped us up in a two-seater beach buggy. Two little brown guys, a giant Australian and four bags stuffed into a rolling fibreglass flip-flop, drew some concerned looks from a nearby cop…

    When Muslims undertake the Hajj pilgrimage, we leave our egos and our wealth behind - only your character and your soul has weight in Mecca. Everyone is an equal, the poor sleep next to the rich, the great pray with the good. Foo Camp is the Hajj of the tech industry, it's a privilege to be invited once and you'll never resist the chance to return.

    Hours later, we're packed into an army-surplus bus, loaded with mattresses, surfboards, high-performance MIT geeks and me, winding our way over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and through Sonoma County.

    I'm sitting next to Martin, we're talking about American politics, my work at Orange and I sheepishly stop talking and ask Martin what he does. Turns out Martin is Martin King, the inventor of T9 Predictive Text Entry. Martin explains he created T9 as an assistive tool to help less able people use keyboards… he had no idea how ubiquitous his creation would become. Martin died just five years later… he'd been diagnosed with cancer around the time we'd met.

    One of our other fellow travellers was Saul's colleague at Squid Labs, Corwin Hardham, inventor of a revolutionary high-altitude wind turbine, Makani Power.

    Sadly, I discovered that Corwin also passed away sometime in 2012. Though I didn't get to speak with Corwin that weekend, I'd been reading about his work and more interestingly, a life well lived coupled with a very humanist attitude towards technology and progress.

    I don't know what this means or whether there's any significance to the coincidental deaths of these two remarkable men. Both appeared to be egalitarian and generous with their talents and motivated to create prosperity and progress for others. Their world-changing creations will resonate for decades and more.

    is it selfish of us to wish for more from such men – more life, more time, more invention – when they already gave so much to us all?

    Photo: Saul Griffith, Jim McBride, Martin King & Yael Maguire on the Squid Labs bus, headed to Foo Camp in 2005.
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