britt bolen at hcs.harvard.edu
Thu May 18 02:10:50 EDT 2000

On Wed, 17 May 2000, Scott A. Golder wrote:

> What I'm seeing right now, is a cadre of seniors who are seeing 'the good old
> days' through rose-colored glasses, and are using the high perch of years as a
> pedestal from which to piss on the rest of us.  I resent this.

now now, thats not what i'm doing, i ain't pissing on anybody.  I'm a bit
of a caustic cur at times, so be it, but it got _some_ discussion started
now didn't it?  I'm concerned is all.  I want to leave in 22 days with a
sense that the HCS will keep right on rolling when I'm gone, I don't want
the opportunities that the HCS has given me to not be there for the

I think more than anything I had gotten a little worried that the sky was
going to fall in a month without me, and i want to know that things are
going to happen, that there will be recruiting (I know there will be
manager folks, and that we'll have a new server so that is good) and that
people are thinking about the HCS.  This is what I like hcs-discuss for,
it lets us all know that people are thinking, and that is what we should
be using this list for.

> Maybe the issue _is_ enthusiasm?  Where has the enthusiasm gone?  Is it
> because we're not doing projects that people find interesting?  The HCS as I
> see it is an open group, and anyone can start something new, or even just
> suggest it.  Nothing at all would make me happier than getting three e-mails a
> week with new, exciting project ideas.

yes this.  I'm thinking the same thing, i want to talk about how to get
some of it.  

> But more than projects, we need people to participate in them.  I think we've
> made great strides in terms of accessibility -- the office is open most
> afternoons during the week for anyone to come in and hold a project meeting or
> just to hang out.

We don't need people to do the projects, we've already got lots of people.
Projects work best when there is one lunatic running it who'll do the damn
thing himself if nobody else helps.  This kind of rampant lunacy helps get
the people we have to join in, and we do have a lot of people when you get
their attention.  Look at how the MaxDwork project worked out (not to toot
my own horn, but it's a good example i think)  I was going to build that
lab regardless of who helped me, and i did do a shitload of work on it,
but I got a lot of help from people on those two days, and that was a lot
of fun.  Fall seminars can work this way, you need a nutcase leader who
gets everyone excited, and then it works.

So i guess what we need to do is figure out how to grow more nutcases. I'm
not sure what it takes to get that, but that I think is the best route to
a successful project.  I think we need to build an organizational mindset
of, damit if i start to do this by myself i'll get help with my own
enthusiasm, and this will probably help people to come up with their own

<begin hcs purpose digression>

What these projects _should_ be isn't something for me or a constitution
or really anything else to say, this whole field changes, so should we,
BUT i don't think the HCS should abandon it's roots of service to the
community.  We're often the most competant computer people in the
undergraduate community and we ought to use that.  Thus you see why i'm a
big fan of manager and acctserv (i'm also a big sysadmin dork so that
helps as well) and those two projects make us rather valuable to the rest
of the college, and get us a fair amount of privelege.   

Case in point, the new machine for the hcs that prof Kung is giving us.
It doesn't have a Digital UNIX license key anymore, nor does it have any
support, and HASCS is considering paying for all of that for us.  They
wouldn't do it if they didn't consider the HCS a very valuable resource to
the community.

<back to considering how to get more lunatic project leaders>

ok, so what do i propose to help grow lunatics?  Others have commented on
how most of us are totally fucked on a regular basis by harvard and it's
evil bastard workloads.  (possible) solution:  SMALL projects.  At least
for now, start more 1 day, or 2 day projects.  Try and get people thinking
smaller, then maybe we could get more of these bang it out in one day
things were they don't require as much of a long term commitment, and can
work into people's schedules.  Then maybe if we get people more interested
we could have enough energy to try a more substantial project.  

I dunno, thats my theory, i'll think on it more.  And i'll be interested
in seeing how the contactDB code-a-thon goes.  I'll show up...


-- --------------------------------------------------------------------
Britt Bolen               britt at bolen.com               britt.bolen.com 

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