Sunday, January 9, 2011

Howard Strauss

When we visited Princeton University a few weeks ago, I remembered meeting Howard Strauss at lunch at an Educause Conference. He was a big name at Educause but very friendly and eager to talk about the future of computing. I mentioned to him that at a prior Educause Conference I was present to hear him give his humorous presentation on the introduction of electricity to Princeton University.

"Howard Strauss of Princeton, discussing ubiquitous computing went through the archives at Princeton and discovered, among others, the following quotes on the introduction of electricity from various faculty meetings:
  • Electricity is just a fad, just as silly as the Wright brothers flying, it wont survive
  • Do we really need an electric point in every classroom? Maybe just connecting a few of them will be enough
  • There are too many standards at the moment (DC, AC, 110v, 220v, etc.). We should wait till there is a just one standard
  • Only a student could use that light, not us
  • We could buy a years worth of candles for the cost of cabling up the campus
  • It isn’t reliable so we will have to have candles anyhow
  • Some students will want more than one light, we should ration it and only allow them one light each
  • We should limit each student to 25W, they don’t need any more than that.
  • They will use it for non-academic purposes like reading trashy novels, and we shouldn’t be providing for their non academic life.
  • It will allow night classes so we will have to work more hours and it will turn universities into learning factories
Or in short it is coming and you can hold out for a bit, but ubiquitous computing and wireless networking are coming – ready or not – and it is better to be planning it now."
He replied that he received more comments about this speech than any other presentation he had made. Unfortunately, he died a couple of years later in 2005.

1 comment:

  1. "it will turn universities into learning factories"

    Why would someone think that's a bad thing?