Neal Stephenson at Google Talk

perm url: http://xahlee.org/Periodic_dosage_dir/Neal_Stephenson.html

Neal Stephenson at Google Talk

Xah Lee, 2009-01-16

Was chatting on freenode's irc #rcirc channel out of boredome. I asked out in the open for suggestions on some sci-fi movies to watch. Sabetts (Shawn Betts, author of Ratpoison↗ and Stumpwm↗) mentioned that Neal Stephenson↗ has a google talk.

Neal Stephenson talk at Google on 2008-09-12.

I watched the entire 58 min of it. In the beginning 5 or 10 min, you see this boring guy, humorless, self-absorbed, absent-minded nerd, going on monotonously. The entire talk is a emotionless monotone, somewhat demeaning and self-abasing too, entirely devoid of any high points, energy, constantly letting out a subdued sigh. Can't find a single gleam of a smile on his face thru the entire talk.

I've of course heard of him, first time in 1998 thru a colleague (Jon Frisby↗), who named his coding projects after his books. Neal is this sci-fi novel writer, famous for titles like Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, etc, some kinda celebrity god among tech geekers. I watched to see what he have say, after all he's giving a talk at Google.

It turns out, i find him to be extremely intelligent. When he got asked about what he thinks of Wikipedia, my ears perked up intently. I'm a Wikipedia expert, as far as what it is, the quality of it, its relation to the tech geekers, and to humanity at large, so his answers will be a high point for me to make a judgment of him. And then behold, what quality in observation he has, brought out in such a un-spectacular mannerism. Though, it is disappointing when asked about Second Life, for which his answer was that he basically never tried it so doesn't know much to comment, despite the fact that he partially founded such a metaverse idea and in fact supported its development by creating a wiki metaweb.com during mid 2000s. (in fact, my name and my article on trolling (On Ignoring Trolls) was mentioned on that wiki while it existed. (metaweb.com went defunct few years back and today it's some company's site.))

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