Bill Gates as a Celebrity on The Daily Show

by francine Hardaway on January 30, 2007

I stayed up last night to watch Bill Gates on “The Daily Show.” I was stunned at the change in the world that 1) makes Bill Gates a celebrity worthy of being interviewed by Jon Stewart, and 2) makes the launch of the new Microsoft Vista operating system an event as important as the publication of a book or a movie. And I wanted to see it for myself, in real time. (Yes, I have DVR).

But there was Gates, who was clearly the kind of child schools would put on Ritalin today and have diagnosed with some social disorder, trying to joke with one of the nimblest mouths in the universe. It was worth waiting for.

Gates has clearly had (and absorbed) a ton of media training. He knows what to do with his hands and how to get his points across no matter what actual question he’s asked. He was articulate and non-technical, answering questions like “What does the F12 key do?” with quips like “Leave the F12 key alone; start with F1 and work your way up.” He told Stewart he was going from the show to London, and then to four countries in Europe for the European launch of Vista, before going home. He also told Stewart he didn’t have a pet (yet), although he was under a lot of pressure from the kids.

But Bill Gates, despite the wealth and the media training, is not a “normal guy.” He’s clearly still a person who lives inside his own remarkable head. Do you know how I know this? At the end of the interview, Stewart thanked him, and Gates just got up and walked off! No other guest does that. Everyone else stays there while the music comes up and the camera moves back, going into the commercial break. The guests usually chat with Stewart, or hug him, or something, until they are off camera. Not Gates. He got up, turned on his heel and left! It’s like he had done a demo at CES and it was over. No connection to the host whatsoever. It was very interesting.

Now if you are reading this via my blog, you will notice there are some links above you can follow: one to Gates’ bio, and one to the Vista product page, and one to The Daily Show. If you are receiving this via my email list, however, those links are probably not there.

There was a big dustup in the blogosphere recently about these links. Because I didn’t start as a blogger, but as the writer of an e-zine, I am not as sensitive to this as many of the A-list bloggers whose posts I read, like Calcanis and Scoble. As a result, I may have inadvertantly not linked (for a while I didn’t even know HOW to link) to information I found over the Internet.

Now I realize something really important that I have to share with everybody who is not an experienced blogger: most blogs are like research papers. If you write a blog, you are often using information that comes from somewhere else that you are sharing. Or you know something your readers don’t know about (like Vista) and you want to send them somewhere to find out.

So you link in your blog to your sources. It’s the polite and thoughtful thing to do, and if you got the information from elsewhere, it’s also the LEGAL thing to do in the old tradition of plagiarism. As a writer, I’m not happy when someone uses what I write without attribution, and neither is any other writer, photographer, artist, musician, etc. But the Internet is making big changes in these conventions, and there is a big fight over these issues –grouped under the broad rubric of intellectual property–on the Internet.

I’m not sure how this will all turn out, but if you want to see the Bill Gates interview on the Daily Show, you can go to:

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