I love this quote from Tim Berners-Lee, the man responsible for the World Wide Web. He’s a low profile genius who never profited from his invention. I often think about him when i talk to my investment banking friends, or other people who are placing monetary gain over what really makes them happy. This is a quote from his book Weaving the Web which is a pretty good read if you’re interested in how the web came about, what the original thoughts were about it, and how it’s survived attempts by private industry (Microsoft, IBM, etc.) to control it.
People have sometimes asked me whether i am upset that i have not made a lot of money from the Web. In fact, I made some quite conscious decisions about which way to take my life. These I would not change – though i am making no comment on what i might do in the future. What does distress me, though, is how important a question it seems to be to some. This happens mostly in America, not Europe. What is maddening is the terrible notion that a person’s value depends on how important and financially successful they are, and that that is measured in terms of money. That suggests disrespect for the researchers across the globe developing ideas for the next leaps in science and technology. Core in my upbring was a value system that put monetary gain well in its place, behind things like doing what i really want to do. To use net worth as a criterion by which to judge people is to set our children’s sights on cash rather than on things that will actually make them happy.