Yoda, Magic, and Yoda’s Magic

“Try not.
Do…or do not.
There is no try.”
– Yoda, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

So, how cool is Industrial Light & Magic? ILM is a Lucasfilm company and you know their movies – Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Mission Impossible, Jurassic Park, and hundreds of others. Kay Cioffi (right, above) and I recently visited with Chrissie England (center, above), President of ILM, on a trip to their new multimedia complex in San Francisco. It’s located in the historic Presidio, right next to the Golden Gate Bridge – what a view!
And what a technical track record! One wall of the complex features terrific pictures of the special effects crews for each movie ILM has done, from the very beginning of the company. And the technology breakthroughs just keep coming: their track record is so impressive that they just picked up a Medal of Technology Award in Washington, D.C. a few months back. I personally liked the server room – rack after rack of rendering servers with plenty of air conditioning to go along. The telecommunications servers were VoIP, and I’m always glad to see that, having made my living for so many years in the communications sector.
It was at the Medal of Technology dinner in February 2006 that Kay met George Lucas and Chrissie England. The next thing I knew, we were in the cafeteria at ILM, talking to Chrissie about a range of topics – from their on-site day care center (I loved seeing the little ones walk through the hallways on their way to the playground), to their concern over K-12 technology education. We talked about the image of IT and how it was so in need of reform. I recalled the first Jurassic Park film, and how the little girl in the flick rescued her family by programming a Sun Workstation to close the gates of the complex before the T-REX types came to claim them as dinner. I was so thrilled, at the time, that I shrieked with joy in the movie theater! Here was a “normal” little girl, programming! Imagine that. Our conversation turned towards how movie studios could work with NCWIT on the image of IT and on K-12 education. More to come, but we were encouraged with the dialogue, and hope to keep ILM engaged with our work.
As we left, after almost two hours of discussions, we passed a statue of Yoda, one of my personal heroes. I was reminded of one of his most quoted remarks: “Try not. Do…or do not. There is no try,” and it struck me that this should be the NCWIT motto. We are a mobilizing organization focused on change. It’s hard to change corporations and universities and K-12 schools, but we must do it. There is no trying, there is only doing.

CEO of the National Center for Women & Information Technology, Lucy Sanders is.

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