Tricycles for the Mind

aslakr / CC BY 2.0
We began to feel as if we really were responsible for the successful, error-free perfect use of these machines. I don't think we are. I think we're responsible for stretching them, setting them off in new directions, and keeping fun in the house. — Alan Perlis
Steve has again shaken up the world of computing.

But the iPad is defeatism.

© Gary Larson

We can't make computers better by simply throwing stuff out.

I think this is the challenge for every self-respecting geek today:

Revive systems research.

It's certain that we can't get to the moon by piling up chairs, but it's even more certain that we can't get there with less chairs.

We shouldn't look at point solutions, but at the whole design space.

Let's not build tricycles, but bicycles for the mind.

Learning to ride a bike is not easy, but once you get the hang of it, you can ride around the world.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To revive systems research we need to make sure that some hackers actually pass their CS classes, make it to 4th year and are not woo'd away to industry immediately. Then we need professors to recognize the value of these hacker type 4th years. And then figure out that they are extremely useful for both tools and grunt work. Profs have to realize the writing skills of these candidates will be quite varied but will have more development ability in one hand than most labs of grad students.

Once you get the hacker crowd you have to get one who wants a PhD because you want them to have a lofty far and wide goal that is mostly implementation based. It is hard to get a PhD that is mostly implementation but in Systems and Software Engineering you can spin it.

Now after this courageous hacker has given us his go, we find that he writing skills are likely still crap (too bad). What is he to do? Academia? Industry. He's now the super oddball. He is a super coder, very well trained, but totally scary to industry. Industry has no clue what do what to do with PhD types, especially the more concrete hacker PhD.

In summary: systems are dead because not enough grad students are actually hackers.