David, Not Goliath

G is not for GoliathFrom the moment of his birth, David was an adorable little guy. He was always smiling, and even at that age there was something different about him. He didn't seem to require much sleep, preferring instead to gaze at his surroundings with great interest. "Goo," he would say, scrutinizing an object on the other side of the room. "Goo!"

At six months, David had catalogued the location of every object in the house, even those that moved frequently. When his father couldn't find his car keys in the morning, David always knew exactly where they were. And he catalogued facts, too. When his mother couldn't remember the doctor's number and reached for the phone book, David told her the number. Everyone was amazed, and word of his astonishing capabilities spread.

By the time David's first birthday arrived, he was known in some circles as a prodigy. In private, some said he was a savant, because that was the only way they could explain his extraordinary talent for memorizing the details of every event and conversation that took place, along with the location of every object within a five-mile radius. There had been another child—her name was Alta—in a neighboring town who displayed similar talents, but the memory of her feats began to fade as more and more people became aware of the new sensation. Alta was good, but David was better.

As the years passed, David grew tall and strong. He still wore the perpetual smile that had endeared him to so many from the beginning, and he continued to amaze everyone with his mental abilities. In fact, he had gone beyond mere cataloging and into the realm of encyclopedic knowledge by that time; he had become the de facto source of information and knowledge for a significant portion of the world's population. In spite of the fame, he remained friendly, humble, and willing to freely share the vast and ever-expanding knowledge that he seemed to continually accumulate.

David continued to grow beyond any traditional measure; he became taller than anyone else on the planet, and stronger by far. And although his guileless personality remained unchanged, he had accumulated significant wealth by virtue of the network that had only naturally been established during his interaction with the world at large. Businesspeople were intrigued by the idea of leaving their calling cards in strategic locations, namely those locations frequented by persons with a specific interest in a particular subject—a subject relating to the products or services offered by said businesspeople, in fact. So David offered to distribute those business cards, leaving them in places he knew had a high concentration of folks who would be likely to pick them up. If no one took a card, it wouldn't cost the businessperson anything; if a card was picked up, David would get a small amount of money for his efforts. After all, even prodigies have to eat, especially when they're really, really big.

As it happened, the idea caught on in the extreme, and although David wasn't charging very much for his new service, the sheer volume of customers resulted in very large piles of money for him. As you might expect, this situation made certain people very uncomfortable. How, they thought, are we going to sell large, colorful, expensive advertising to businesspeople when this David guy is selling small, colorless advertising for next to nothing? And worst of all, his get far better results. We simply can't compete with this guileless giant! They began to call him names, like Goliath. Some began to make accusations in public. Some hinted that David was trying to monopolize things, and others just said he was turning their business models upside down.

When he heard these things, David would just smile and shake his head. "Don't be evil," he told them. "There's plenty of business for everyone. You can do this, too." But that only made the people angrier. "We already tried that," they said, "but everybody loves the way you do things, and they don't love us no matter how much we tell them they have to." David shrugged. "Maybe you're doing something wrong," he said. "Maybe it's time to try something new." The people just frowned. "You're like Goliath," said one. "You're too big. You're eating all our food. You should be smaller."

David winked, and turned to walk away. "You know," he said over his shoulder, "every once in a while, the good guys do win."


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