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that interview thang

Asked by cellio:

  • You've been on the net (ARPAnet, Usenet, internet) for a long
    time. What development has surprised you the most?


    The decision of the NSF in 1995 to authorize NSI (now part of Verisign)
    to start charging for domain name registrations surprised me the most,
    because I would have thought the NSF would have been aware of its
    implications. Because they were not, it essentially granted NSI a virtual
    monopoly, and resulted in some poor decisions (by some well-meaning
    individuals) that eventually lead to the creation of ICANN. As an aside,
    I was also surprised how domain names came to be valued, since when the
    first ones were rolled out in the mid-1980s, there was no financial value
    to a domain name. It was just something you used for others to identify
    and refer to you.
  • What changes in undergrad CS programs would better prepare students
    for careers and/or grad school?


    As far as careers are concerned, this is a difficult question, because
    the notion of career that we've had for some time is now rapidly
    changing in CS, as fewer jobs are being created, and existing jobs are
    migrating to where they can be done cheaply. Ideally, you would want
    to teach people an understanding of the businesses that use computer
    technology, so that they are in a better position to satisfy their
    customers/users needs. There is also a need to understand the regulatory
    policies (or absence thereof) that shape markets for computer technology.
    However, this could lengthen the time it takes to finish an undergrad
    CS program.


    I think the best way to prepare students for grad school, especially if
    they will need to write a thesis or dissertation, is to introduce them to
    research as soon as possible. They need to understand how research
    works: how to get pick a topic; what are the most useful methods of
    gathering information; how to evaluate existing research related to
    their area; how to raise funds; how to select a committee; how to present
    results. This can be done through project-oriented courses if there is
    no undergrad research opportunity. However, it also adds time to the
    degree program.

  • You can send a message of up to 50 words to a younger version of
    yourself. (You will not receive an answer.) What do you send and to when?


    Hmmm ... this is difficult, because there are lots of things for which I
    can say "If I had known then what I know now." Perhaps what
    might have done the most good would be to send a message to myself in
    my first semester sophomore year at MIT, when I did really poorly. I
    would say something like "Don't worry, it was just one semester, you
    have plenty of time to improve, just trust in your abilities."
  • The genie in the bottle offers to grant you complete mastery of one
    skill. What do you choose?


    Can I make a meta-request? :) I guess at this time, the ability to
    choose a good career path for myself.
  • What is your ideal vacation?


    The best vacation I ever had was the ten days I spent at the home of
    a member of our sister chorus Assou-Lézert in Albi, France.
    We were shown a good deal of hospitality, and got to experience that
    part of France from a more intimate perspective than if we had gone on
    a tour. I would like to take that type of vacation again.

If you'd like to be interviewed, please let me know by replying to this
post or emailing me. I will post five questions in response. In your
journal, post my questions with your answers and an offer to interview
others.