Archive for October, 2008

Randy Pausch in CACM

The September issue of CACM has a one-page, seven-question interview with Randy Pausch. It is definitely worth reading, so I’ll give you a sneak peek (unfortunately, CACM is not “open access”):

What about advice for CS teachers and professors?

That it’s time for us to start being more honest with ourselves about what our field is and how we should approach teaching it. Personally, I think that if we had named the field “Information Engineering” as opposed to “Computer Science,” we would have had a better culture for the discipline. For example, CS departments are notorious for not instilling concepts like testing and validation the way many other engineering disciplines do.

Is there anything you wish someone had told you before you began your own studies?

Just that being technically strong is only one aspect of an education.


Alice has proven phenomenally successful at teaching young women, in particular, to program. What else should we be doing to get more women engaged in computer science?

Well, it’s important to note that Alice works for both women and men. I think female-specific “approaches” can be dangerous for lots of reasons, but approaches like Alice, which focus on activities like storytelling, work across gender, age, and cultural background. It’s something very fundamental to want to tell stories. And Caitlin Kelleher’s dissertation did a fantastic job of showing just how powerful that approach is.

The interview was conducted a few weeks before his death. I’ll just say that, somehow, I suspect someone not in his position would never have said at least one of these things.  It’s a sad thought, but Randy’s message is, as always, positive.


We’ve moved!

Early this week we moved from White Plains to Manhattan.  So far, we’ve decorated the apartment using organic landscape elements, in harmony with the surrounding environment.  Here is what I mean:

Urban decoration

On the left is the view outside the window and on the right is what you see inside.

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