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Joyce Carol Oates

National Book Award

I did a lot of work around the house and around the farm. I remember cutting the lawn -- not with a power mower, but with a hand mower -- when I was fairly young. So, it wasn't that I was a free spirit. I was not a free spirit. I fit in with the household in the way that people do in farm communities. Everybody's working, basically. But I think I had my own private imagination as we all do. And I just found a way to have a private space in my own imagination somehow.
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Joyce Carol Oates

National Book Award

Joyce Carol Oates: The steps from an idea, which is very inchoate, to a finished product are really incalculable, and it can involve years. To write a novel, so many elements come together. It's like tributaries making their way into a river. You see the river, and it looks like it's a coherent whole but, in fact, it's made up of numberless -- perhaps thousands -- of small tributaries. And it's hard even to talk about this phenomenon. It's a sort of rushing current.
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Joyce Carol Oates

National Book Award

If I had an idea, the idea would not be sufficient. It has to be bolstered by something from the unconscious, some kind of sympathy or connection, some sense of drama that's like a spark of identification. I wanted to write a novel, for instance, about a man who had been falsely accused of a crime and maybe went to prison. And his own children exonerated him, and they set out to redeem him. And that must have been an idea that was in my mind for years. But as I'm working on the novel now, and it's so different. I remember the genesis, and I couldn't be writing it without that genesis. But it's completely different now. And I don't understand these mysterious processes.
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Pierre Omidyar

Founder and Chairman, eBay

Pierre Omidyar: I've got a passion for solving a problem that I think I can solve in a new way. And that maybe it helps that nobody has done it before as well. I mean, we always have -- you know, there's a sense of pride of doing something brand new, and I'm particularly inspired by problems that seem easily solvable. Not the difficult problems that some of the physicists that are here, for example, are talking about, but problems that seem easily solvable, that no one has bothered to attack because they think it's impossible, you know. And so with eBay, the whole idea there was just to help people do business with one another on the Internet. And people thought it was impossible because how could people on the Internet -- remember this is 1995 -- how could they trust each other? How could they get to know each other? And I thought that was silly. You know, it was a silly concern because people are basically good, honest people. So that was very motivating. It was, "Gee, I'll just do it. I'll just show them. Let's see what happens."
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Pierre Omidyar

Founder and Chairman, eBay

The most important thing of eBay is the human side now. At the beginning I didn't get that. For me it was an experiment. It was like I said, I wanted to create an efficient market where individuals could benefit from participating in an efficient market, kind of level the playing field. And I thought, "Gee, the Internet, the web, it's perfect for this." This is more of an intellectual pursuit, you know, than anything else. It was just an idea that I had, and I started it as an experiment, as a side hobby basically, while I had my day job. And it just kind of grew. Within six months it was earning revenue that was paying my costs. Within nine months the revenue was more than I was making on my day job, and that's kind of when the light bulb went off. "Knock, knock, knock. You've got a business here, do something about it." So that's when that really started.
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Larry Page

Founding CEO, Google Inc.

Larry Page: I think Google is great because, basically artificial intelligence would be the ultimate version of Google. So we have the ultimate search engine that would understand everything on the Web. It would understand exactly what you wanted, and it would give you the right thing. That's obviously artificial intelligence, to be able to answer any question, basically, because almost everything is on the Web, right? We're nowhere near doing that now. However, we can get incrementally closer to that, and that is basically what we work on. And that's tremendously interesting from an intellectual standpoint.
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