How jock-sniffing is *really* done, Ron...

Rohit Khare (
Mon, 23 Feb 1998 05:33:42 -0800

First, have a genuine interest in their expertise. They're famous as vision
people, we're looking for vision.

Second, (try) to be completely up-to-date on what they're up to. It's hard for
people as private as they are -- and note the excised email addresses archived

Third, be polite, catchy, and brief. You may accuse me of being none of the
three in real life, but that's not until Phase II, is it?

As for results, be patient. 3% is a good response rate...


------- Forwarded Message

To: Alan Kay, Danny Hillis
Subject: Hi; Coping with Cynicism; Lunch
Date: Mon, 23 Feb 1998 05:26:17 -0800
From: Rohit Khare

[In approximately that order]

Hi --

My name is Rohit Khare, a grad student at UC Irvine, and I am here
with Adam Rifkin, a grad student from Caltech. We were wondering what
the trick is for avoiding profound and abiding cynicism about the
overhyped and underinnovative field of computer science.

Now, we despair not only for our own SuperCoolNeat-O Idea (TM), but
because it isn't clear what's truly NEW out there -- is CS, or at
least networking, fossilizing in place, right at the moment of its
great triumph? We keep seeing cycles of rediscovery in computer
engineering; the latest wave is the rediscovery of papers B.W. (before
the Web, since people only do online research now).

The visions circulating today seem awfully long in the tooth:
DynaBook, which inspired my adviser when *he* was a student, still
seems a goal; Adam's adviser created a theory of parallel programming
design fifteen years ago, but practical parallel program design is as
difficult as ever. Networking is still based on model of fixed
topology with globally-mapped nodes and mobility as a special case.

Mind you, this torpor stems not from working in the idle backwaters of
computing. We have been active in many of the current fads; myself,
helping start up the Web Consortium, and together, consulting on
markup languages, security, embedded Web devices, and other road
shows. It just seems like a lot of activity around 1960's (and
earlier) ideas of universal hypermedia and universal data formats.

Finally, The Millennium Clock really polarized us. I'm inherently
optimistic about humanity, and about the need for the universe to
become self-aware through its sentient habitants; as a result, I'm
ecstatic about a project to make capital-T-Time tangible. Adam thinks
it's cockamamie, since humanity will find some (dramatic) way to
obsolete itself before 03000.

And hey, if y'all have some answers, perhaps we can even buy you lunch...

Thanks muchly for listening to our rant,
Rohit Khare
Adam Rifkin

PS. Oh, and our SuperCoolNeat-O Idea: building biologically inspired
decentralized network gizmos. Self-organizing, anarchic routing,
barter economies of bandwidth. We prognosticate about munchkins every
so often with our buddies on FoRK,


Rohit Khare ( ) wasted his youth on
economics and computer science at Caltech, angry young man at the
World Wide Web Consortium/MIT, a brief middle age at MCI Internet
Architecture, and has retired to bitter contemplation of messaging
protocols at UC Irvine

Adam Rifkin ( ) squandered his life on
entertaining himself through movies, books, music, and alcohol.
Somehow, he found himself interning at Hewlett-Packard, and now is
uncomfortably ensconced in the PhD program at Caltech pondering
distributed events, thus ruining him for cubicles forever.

------- End of Forwarded Message