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August 1, 2007

After a Microsoft career, love of former rivals declared

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 12:57 PM

I listened to some excerpts from the Aspen Ideas Festival, which took place early last month, and one quote caught my attention.

Randy Heinrichs introduced himself as a former Microsoft Research employee and the CEO of a new company, 2b3d (more on that in a second). He promptly got something off his chest:

"I am formerly from Microsoft Research, and I've been waiting to say this for a long time after 10 years: I love Apple. I love Sony. I love Linux. I love open source," Heinrichs declared, to big laughs from the crowd of intellectuals at the event.

(You can listen to Heinrichs' brief speech, along with several others that kicked-off the festival on American Public Media's Word for Word, which is where I heard it. Heinrichs' comments begin at 3:39.)

"What I really love is education," Heinrich continued.

He related a story of his son asking permission to play at a friend's house. When granted, the son went to his room, and logged on to World of Warcraft.

That got Heinrichs asking himself what motivates kids to play video games -- particularly the increasingly immersive online multiplayer games -- and, "What motivates us, as adults, to continue to buy them Xbox, Sony PlayStations, Wiis, telephones, all of this digital equipment that is changing these children and building them into a new culture of digital natives, where all of us sitting here, as I look across the sea, are digital immigrants."

Heinrichs' Big Idea is to "build an interactive serious gaming and media grid to support a high-definition learning environment for these kids." His company, 2b3d (to which I could find no link online) is working on doing just that.

"I would like to get these kids to be new citizens of the world by combining our institutions of education with these digital institutions," he said.

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