the nail that sticks out...


My friend Gen recently wrote on his blog about Shuji Nakamura, the guy the invented the Blue LED and who didn't get anything for it.

It reminds me of Japanese school. In one class we would watch "Project X", a program about Japanese corporate history. I think it was corporate although it might have covered more. They would make it super dramatic.

One episode was about the formation of Sony. They really concentrated on the fact that one sentence out of the entire page of their mission statement was "To rebuild Japan". Anyway, that one was a pretty interesting story over all.

Another one though was of the creation of the automatic ticket taking gates at the train stations. It used to be all hand done with a line of station attendants standing where the automated gates are now.

Anyway, they showed the team busting their asses to invent the machines. They eventually succeeded (not as easy as it sounds). I'm sure the company made a bazillion dollars. There's got to be a tens of thousands of those things in Japan and each one I'm sure costs $5K−$20K each. The team got nothing basically except to keep their job.

Even more interesting, we were required to write reports in that class about the episodes so I wrote what I got out of it was how unfair it was that those guys got nothing for their invention. My teacher defended the "Japanese Way" saying that the money is spread out more. I pointed out that was BS. Someone was making bank and it wasn't the guys that did the work. I'm not sure she grasped that.

Another example is the guy that invented Pac Man. As far as I know he got almost nothing.

Of course this conversation has come up a million times. As employees they aren't actually entitled to anything more. They got what they bargined for. $XX dollars an hour for work−for−hire so techincally the company has no reason to pay them more. In fact, once a friend and I were grousing in front of our boss about this kind of stuff in relation to game software and royalties and the boss basically said "if you feel that way you should quit and start your own company." I'm not sure what else he said specifically but what I took from his comments was that if you feel you can be successful they you need to go out and take the risk. If you are working for a company what you are doing instead is taking no risk and expecting a reward. Of course the company might go out of business but generally you are not the one losing money if the project fails, you still get your salary, that's why you are not getting the rewards if it succeeds.

But, as time goes on, as people get more knowledgable and as information is easier to come by it gets easier to find another job at a company that will give you a piece of what you make. Whether it's through bonuses, royalties, profit sharing, stock options. Of course they all have their downside too, if the company doesn't succeed you don't get jack. But, all things being equal, the people that can do will gravitate to the companies that treat them best (whether that's money or something else).

I'm not able to verify this but rumor a similar thing is effecting Canada's medical system. All other things being equal a doctors will go where they get paid the most for their hard work. Canada being a socialist medical system the can get paid more in the states so they are leaving.

Dawn of the Dead (remake)