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Kim Vinnell: The value of being nice to geeks

opinion

Published: 1:49PM Monday July 11, 2011 Source: ONE News

Super Geeks - I've never been nicer.

I'll come clean. I wasn't always that nice to the nerds at my school when I was growing up.

It wasn't outright nastiness or anything, but more like strong apathy.

Now, having spent the past few days among hundreds of super nerds at the Microsoft Imagine Cup, some of Bill Gates' most famous words refuse to leave me:

"Be nice to geeks, because you may just end up working for them".

This has never rung more true.

This competition is the technology equivalent of the Olympics. More than 350,000 university students from around the world, all competing with software they've created themselves from idea generation, to creation, to pitching in the industry.

That means some of the brightest young minds in the world, all in one place. It's intimidating, and inspiring.

These people really are the ones who will shape our world in the coming years.

Think about how the way we interact with technology has changed over just the past ten years.

Well these are the people who will make the changes for the next ten. And what changes they will be.

It's all about removing barriers between user and technology in fact taking technology out of the equation as much as possible.

So that simpletons like myself can get to the good bit faster.

To be able to watch movies, make home videos, manage photos online and keep up to date with my "mates" (read: social networking contacts) without the technology getting in the way.

But in this case, these engineers, inventors and entrepreneurs are going a step further. They are using technology to address the world's toughest problems.

As FourSquare's founder Dennis Crowley said to me, all great ideas in technology come first from a desire to solve a problem.

Whether it's at a local level like making it easier to find good restaurants in your suburb or at a global level like combating life threatening epidemics.

And THAT, is exactly what Kiwi Imagine Cup team One Buzz are doing.

They want to eradicate malaria, which kills one million people every year, and threatens half the world's population.

Their technology collates a lot of information that's already available, and uses formulas to predict where malaria outbreaks will hit, before they do.

It's about making the technology as simple as possible, so the users, again, can get to the good bit faster.

Although it their case, it's a little more serious.

As I write, the One Buzz team have just made it to the top 6 of the Worldwide Finals of the Imagine Cup.

They've beaten more then 350,000 students from 183 countries just to get here, and now they're making their mark on the world stage.

You can bet I've been super nice to them from the start.

ONE News reporter Kim Vinnell is in New York for the Microsoft Imagine Cup (the Olympics of technology).

Read more Kim Vinnell opinion

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