Aris Silzars Display Technology Consulting


It Takes More Than One...August 2001

Earlier today, as I was returning home on one of my running routes that requires a six-hundred-foot climb from downtown Issaquah back up to the top of the hill where we live, for the sake of variety and maybe hoping that a new way up the hill would make it seem less steep, I tried a new street. I don't just mean that I tried a different route to get home. This street is really new, with still-black asphalt and pristine concrete sidewalks in attractive s-curves, winding from the new shopping center at the base of the hill up to the top, past apartments and condominiums still under construction -- hundreds of them. As I looked at the new stores below me and the as-yet-unoccupied housing units sprouting on both sides of this winding street, it suddenly struck me that no matter how hard I worked -- even for my entire lifetime -- I would not be able to construct these stores and apartments solely with my own efforts. In fact, I would not be able to complete even the one large home-improvement store that now lay below me where only six months before had been a bare patch of newly-graded ground.

What a depressing thought to realize how limited my capabilities really are! But then I began to strategize how I would go about getting such a project accomplished. Of course, to get it done I would need to order the materials that would have been made by others and have them delivered to me by people who specialize in such work. Then I would need to buy or hire equipment such a crane and tractors to help move all this construction material into place, and this equipment have been built by others as well. And even though I could learn to operate this equipment, it would be much more efficient to hire someone already experienced in doing that. Then I started thinking about the construction projects that I do around the house. Even though these are more modest in scope, they still require tools and materials. And where do I get them? I certainly don't start with a pile of ore and refine it into the metals for the nails, or plant the trees that will eventually grow into lumber.

My goodness, it seems that everything we do depends on the efforts of others. Our food supply, our shelter, our medical care, our ability to travel -- everything. Survival without the support of uncountable others becomes just that, bare survival -- with a high probability of early failure. Doesn't this also say something about the big-ego colleagues we all occasionally encounter who insist that they know everything worth knowing and that the rest of us don't much matter?

So here we are, highly dependent on each other. But how do we decide who will do what task? This is where my thinking-while-running got really interesting. We all seem to be attracted to certain interests and career paths that, when summed together, all fit into a grand scheme that meets a surprisingly high percentage of society's currently identified needs. And what a wonderful scheme it is! Some of us decide we want to be doctors, others decide that chemistry is a great subject to study, many seem to enjoy building things, yet others like to write, interact, or convince. And only a relatively few never seem to figure out how they can best contribute. They just keep trying -- with, I suppose, survival as their major driving force.

As I thought back to my own time in school, I remembered that there were certain subjects that attracted me and others that did not. Why did I like physics and not biology? Why did I find mathematics interesting -- but only as it could be applied to solving physics problems. No one steered me in these directions. In fact, my mother had great expectations that I would become a concert pianist. I liked music, but not as much as physics. Later I learned that I really liked research on electron devices more than basic solid-state physics topics such as crystal structures. Why? I don't know. However, we each seem to find a unique path, and the miracle of it all is how well all these individual paths end up fitting and blending together into a grand scheme that pretty much covers all the bases.

From all this philosophizing I came to two conclusions that I would like to offer for your consideration: one applicable to the entire display community, and one important to SID.

For the display community, it seems to me that those activities that allow for extensive interaction, the pooling of talents, and the free exchange of technical information are going to get us better results than if we attempt to work in isolation. Since some of us are better at developing new materials and, perhaps, innovative display devices using those materials, while others seem to have natural talents for taking these new ideas and developing them into cost-effective manufacturable products, combinations of talents are needed for commercial success. And since others of us enjoy the process of working in a factory environment to refine production processes, it is evident that the better we can become at combining these skills on a worldwide basis, the more successful we will be in meeting the rapidly evolving display needs of the Information Society.

However, it is not my intent to suggest that spirited competition should not exist among companies or among the different display technologies. Such competition keeps us alert, working hard, and allows for a diversity of ideas to surface. Indeed, it is the suppression of such competition, or artificial limits imposed on the exchange of technical information, that will have a long-term detrimental effect.

For the Society for Information Display, the obvious reality is that we can only succeed with active participation from a large portion of our membership. This begins at the chapter level and extends to all the international activities that SID sponsors. By intent, we operate as a non-profit volunteer-run society, with the benefits shared by all and available to all. Therefore, there is more than a subtle hint in this message. If you have skills and expertise that you can offer, it is important that you make them known. Then the "law of attraction" will be able to do its work. If you provide even a hint of your capabilities, others will spot them and help you find a happy home for your natural talents.

This month as you read this, the Industry Directory issue, my message will be amply illustrated as you survey the many participants that make up the display community. Should you wish to offer your services and/or ideas in support of SID's efforts to increase our effectiveness and worldwide influence, I would be honored to hear from you. Contacting me is easy. I know that, since a good number of your colleagues have already managed to do so. Please try me by e-mail at, or, by phone at 425-557-8850, by FAX at 425-557-8983, or by mail at 22513 SE 47th Place, Sammamish, WA 98075.