Re: Carberry's

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Date: Sun Apr 23 2000 - 08:15:12 PDT

(((We're talking about the following document here:
   Read it, if you haven't yet. Particularly, the Acknowledgments part.
   Below message forwarded with permission.


My pleasure.

There's a story that goes with that document. About 4 days after the manual
went up on the server, Mike Dertouzos's admin assistant called me -- Mike
would like to see me in his office. Mike is the director of the entire Lab for
Computer Science, i.e., my boss at the time. OK, fine -- I trot down to his
office. He has the scsh manual on his desk, opened to the acknowledgments
page. He believed it. All. I don't mean he thought "obviously a joke, but just
possibly something more serious; I'll have to check it out just to make sure."
I mean he believed it. So I told him a few stories of similar stunts I'd
pulled in grad school (I had a very patient, long-suffering graduate advisor),
assured him I was not bringing handguns onto campus or drinking heavily on the
job, and left. In the following week, I'd say three different faculty members
took the time to advise me to remove that text from the manual. This offended
me greatly; I viewed it as a minor indicator of a serious problem. It's very,
very important that research communities preserve a sense of fun and play.
Irreverence has a role. Good research is a form of play, and excellent
research is subversive and revolutionary. Leaders have to be careful about the
culture of the communities they build. Kill the sense of play and you've lost
something valuable. If the organisations leaders had problems with my joke,
they had lost touch with this perspective. Not a good sign. Within six months,
I was in the AI Lab.

In the AI Lab, I'll add, I used to send the lab director there email implying
that I'd put budget line items in government-funded research proposals
providing cocaine & amphetamines for my undergraduate hackers, and booze &
underage hookers for our ARPA contract supervisors. He laughed. That tells the
whole story right there.

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