sign up.... (Geek factor 9)

David G. Durand (
Thu, 14 Jan 1999 10:56:54 -0800

The prescription to write an "amusing" description of myself is rather hard
for me, so I won't try. It turns out that my friend Ron Evans added a
personal link to me, with the description "[his] placid Normal exterior
concels a mind seething with weirdness..." I sorta liked that, but you'll
just have to deal with the "placid Normal exterior."

I don't know if I'm exactly a "friend" of Rohit -- but I've met him several
times, most recently with Yaron Goland of Microsoft -- Yaron and I yelled
at each other about XML (sometimes across Rohit's face)for most of a
conference reception and then we all repaired to a restaurant for general
ranting (er... conversation).

I'm an old-guard hypertext guy, and one of the few of my generation to play
with computers from grade school on. That means, I gather, that I'm an up
and coming old fart at 38. I still know horrible things about how IBM's
360/70-era VM operating systems and assembly language work (some things are
branded on your memory, as with a hot iron, no matter how irrelevant they

I worked with a Hypertext system (FRESS) in High School in the late 70's
and that was the first time I encountered Ted Nelson's writing -- in
quotation. I believe that most people don't get Ted because they think that
he must be either a genius _or_ an nut. But it's not an exclusive-or: he's
a bit of both, and is still under-heeded even after so many decades of not
delivering software.

I'm a big fan of XML and the principles of descriptive markup that underly
it, having advocated those principles since the early 80s.

You seem to have a lot of OO types -- my experience there is mixed, but has
some bragging rights. I first worked in OO programming in '83 when I
developed a multiple inheritance class-based preprocessor for C. (At this
startup, we'd seen an early paper by some guy at Bell Labs, but "C with
classes" wasn't avaiable to outsiders. It was a while before they thought
up the name C++). It was interesting because we did do multiple inheritance
(modeled on Symbolics' Flavors), and built the whole thing on a hand-built
virtual memory system, so that it had a persistent object store that saved
us a lot of work. The company died though, as the business personnel were
sub-standard (to say the least). I wouldn't say that I actually understood
how to use OO programming (rather than implement it) until I read the GOF
book a few years ago. (In the interim I went back to graduate school,
learned ML, loved LISP, and mostly wrote in C). I prefer Java to C++
because I like to really understand my tools even if I _don't_ plan on
using all the options.

I'm finishing a dissertation on collaborative editing and change control,
and working on the WebDAV standard, and a bit on XML Linking. The work on
MAPA turned out a better piece of research than a product, but it was
definitely fun!

I suspect this is way too serious, but I'm sure you can find (some) of my
shameful addictions and odd hobbies if you care to.

-- David
David Durand \
Boston University Computer Science \ Sr. Analyst \ Dynamic Diagrams
MAPA: mapping for the WWW \__________________________