- 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
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
- 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