OpenCourseWare 500, Keeping it Fun

Kudos to MIT for reaching its first OpenCourseWare goal and first year anniversary. In honour of the milestone, here is the dedication of the required text for 6.001, Structure
and Interpretation of Computer Programs
, by Hal Abelson and Gerald Sussman:

This book is dedicated, in respect and admiration, to the spirit that lives in the computer.

"I think that it's extraordinarily important that we in computer science keep fun in computing. When it started out, it was an awful lot of fun. Of course, the paying customers got shafted every now and then, and after a while we began to take their complaints seriously. 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. I hope the field of computer science never loses its sense of fun. Above all, I hope we don't become missionaries. Don't feel as if you're Bible salesmen. The world has too many of those already. What you know about computing other people will learn. Don't feel as if the key to successful computing is only in your hands. What's in your hands, I think and hope, is intelligence: the ability to see the machine as more than when you were first led up to it, that you can make it more."

Alan J. Perlis (April 1, 1922-February 7, 1990)

That advice is generalizable. Try replacing "computer science" with "law" or "education" or whatever your passion is. "What you know about law other people will learn. Don't feel as if the key to a successful legal system is only in your hands."

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