[LINK] Linux gaining acceptance in Canberra
Thu, 10 Oct 2002 15:33:47 +1000
"Chirgwin, Richard" <Richard.Chirgwin@informa.com.au>:
>2) Interviewing a Finnish programmer was (and is?) considerably less painful
>than interviewing Richard Stallman. (Try it sometime.) ...
Some people think that 'Gnu's not Unix' was the origin of the term
'Gnu'. But like so many other TLAs it's an ex post facto
reconstruction (and if you think about chickens and eggs, it's easy
to see that it *couldn't* have been the real origin of the term).
The real origin is that a Gnu has a thick hide, and that's definitely
one of Richard Stallman's qualities.
I met Stallman once (but, unlike RC, didn't have to interview him).
I was visiting David Chaum in Amsterdam in 1987 (after his original
Mixmaster and Digicash articles were published, but before he became
a household name amongst the digerati. I ended up helping him with
his Scientific American article - and it was *still* another 3 years
before it was ready for publication! We see one another at CFP
conferences every couple of years).
After a couple of hours, we were interrupted by a phone-call. David
apologised, and said that a friend had just arrived at Amsterdam
railway station, and was getting on another train in two hours, and
he needed to go and meet him. 'Oh, by the way Roger, you might like
to come and meet him, he's an interesting guy'. (When David says
'interesting' about people, David means interesting, and very, very
Stallman's luggage (a small plastic carry-bag) actually included a
pair of shoes. Presumably he was going somewhere where he wanted to
be, but anticipated difficulties if he wasn't wearing any. (Albert
Langer is a paragon of sartorial virtue in comparison with Richard).
I'd done some work on the software copyright furore and amendment
legislation only a year or two before, so I figured I could engage RS
in conversation. I thought I knew a little about the economics of
software production, but boy did I get my propositions blown out of
the water in quick time. Stallman's intellect puts other extremely
bright people I've met (like David Chaum and Albert Langer) in deep
shade. David's quite gentlemanly in conversation, Albert less so;
but Richard can be very, very rude to fools - which in his case means
almost the whole of the population of homo sapiens. In fact, I
suspect he's not even impressed with *himself* at times.
I've not met him since, but every story I've heard suggests he's never changed.
Roger Clarke http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, 78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
Visiting Professor, Uni of Hong Kong, Dept of Comp Sci and Info Sys
Visiting Fellow, Australian National University, Dept of Comp Sci
For Link list information see http://sunsite.anu.edu.au/link/