Cool towns need a Linus Torvalds/Steve Jobs combo (1 of 2)

I am speaking on a panel today at the Urban Land Institute’s annual conference in Vegas, and the inevitable question will be, “What is it that you exactly do?” The tagline above says it pretty succinctly, crowdsourcing cool places for creatives, which after explanation comes, “How is this done?”

By training city, business and community leaders to become a figurative combination of Linus Torvalds, inventor of Linux, and Steve Jobs, founder and CEO of Apple. First, it’s important to understand what makes these two entrepreneurs so extraordinary.

As the story goes, Torvalds was frustrated with existing computer operating systems and decided to write his own. However, rather than work independently, he asked for collaboration (see his original request here). This open call to his coding, known today as open source, resulted in a swarm of volunteers who sensed they were part of something significant.

Jobs on the other hand, as we all know, has a knack for interpreting people’s values (beauty, elegance, simplicity) and principles (I shouldn’t have to take ten minutes learning how to use each feature, it should fit comfortably in my pocket…) and designing inspiring new products that strike emotional chords. As this previous entry highlighted, you don’t design by committee, you ask them for their stories by which the design is based on.

Next entry, what happens when you combine the two…