Internal rewards... not... money

by Simon St. Laurent

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I just got a copy of Revolution in the Valley: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac was Made. Even before opening it, though, I was struck by a quote from Steve Wozniak on the back:

"It's chilling to recall how the cast of young and inexperienced people who cared more than anything about doing great things created what is perhaps the key technology of our lives. Their own words and images take me back to those rare days when the rules of innovation were guided by internal rewards, and not by money."

I haven't had a chance to read the book yet, and I'm sure I'll hear how money plays a part in the story, but Wozniak's words really echo for me. I think there are still sectors where technical creativity is flowering, but it often seems to follow a pattern often seen in neighborhood gentrification: first the artists come in and make the neighborhood "interesting," and then the business folks arrive and make it "respectable." Or something like that.

I frequently share Wozniak's concern, but I hope that there are still enough innovators out there to keep tech interesting, and those "rare days" alive somewhere. There are even some companies that manage to stay interesting and stay afloat at the same time. It's a tough balance to maintain.

Is there a difference in the kind of innovation driven by internal rewards as opposed to that driven by external rewards (like $$$)?