Date: Tue, 18 Mar 1997 16:04:11 -0500 From: Bob Rankin
Reply-To: TOURBUS-Request@LISTSERV.AOL.COM To: TOURBUS@LISTSERV.AOL.COM Subject: TOURBUS - 18 March 1997 - Zen and Blarney /~~~~~~~~~|~~~~~~~~~~~~/~~~~~~~~|~~~~~~~~~~|~~~~~~~~~~~~~/~~~|~\ | "Why | Surf When / You Can | Ride The | Bus?" / | \ |__________|__________/__________|__________|___________/ | \ / /______|----\ | Visit the TOURBUS website to see the Archives, |//////| | | FAQ, and Subscription Information! |//////| | | http://www.TOURBUS.com |//////| | | |//////| | ~~~/~~~\~~/~~~\~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~/~~~\~~~~ \___/ \___/ T h e I n t e r n e t T o u r B u s \___/ TODAY'S TOURBUS TOPIC: Zen and Blarney Here's an interview I did for Boardwatch Magazine in March 1996 with Brendan Kehoe, a well known figure on the Net. It seemed timely, and I think you'll enjoy this little change of pace! --Bob +-------------- FREE WEB SITES FOR AGENTS/RE-SELLERS ---------------+ 1) Save on International Phone Calls; Low rates - All countries 2) E-Mail to Fax Services; Excellent Features; FREE trial Period! +-------( http://www.hasada.com OR Email: email@example.com )-------+ Brendan Kehoe is one of the good guys. As author of the classic "Zen and the Art of the Internet" guide, developer of Archie client software, archivist for the Computer underground Digest and general doer of good online deeds, Kehoe personifies the phrase "net denizen". Kehoe is a soft-spoken young man with a fiery Irish spirit who seems most content when he is doing something for others. While in college he wrote the "Zen" guide to help fellow students understand what he had learned about the Internet, and this free guide became an instant sensation. When he's not off doing volunteer work in the community or answering a seemingly endless stream of e-mail from fellow internauts, Brendan works for Cygnus Support in Mountain View, CA as manager of the C++ Development group. Born in Dublin, Ireland some 25 years ago, Kehoe came to America when he was 4 1/2 and developed the computer habit not long afterward. But the road that led him from Commodore to SparcStation was not without a few bumps. In December of 1993, Kehoe sustained severe head injuries in an automobile accident and was not expected to recover. Miraculously, he survived the crash and emerged with a new outlook on life and what really matters. Recently I talked with Brendan about Zen, the accident, and his life both on and offline. Here's what he had to say... Doc: Tell me a bit about how you first got into computers. Brendan: My first computer was an Atari 800, when I was nine years old. Actually it was my cousin's, but I very quietly stole his BASIC manual, read through it at home and then every time I was over at his place I'd go and try to figure it all out while the others were in the next room watching TV. I conned my mother into getting me a Commodore 64 when I was twelve, which I later upgraded to a model 128, and then I got a modem. That was the beginning of the end - also when my mother started getting horrendous phone bills. I was making toll calls from Maine to Chicago because they had UUCP there, which allowed me to use e-mail. Doc: What was it that attracted you to the Internet? Brendan: Just being able to find things out really quickly. In high school I was blowing away my physics teacher by bringing in a copy of a technical report only a day after some scientist had announced a major discovery. It was really neat that you could find that much stuff that quickly. Now the problem we're running into is how to organize that massive amount of information. Doc: Do you really use a 14.4K modem? Brendan: Well, my Sun SparcStation 1+ apparently can't handle higher than a 14.4 modem. Some of my friends keep telling me "Oh, you've got to get ISDN, it's so great" - but it would cost me a few thousand dollars to upgrade this machine to a Sparc 2 in order to handle a 28.8 or better. Doc: You had a brush with death about two years ago. Can you tell me what happened that day? Brendan: I was in rural Pennsylvania, coming home from a friend's house on New Year's Eve of 1993. Whatever we were talking about it so captivated us that I went right through a stop sign and was hit by a Jeep Cherokee in the driver's side of the car. We went into a spin and ended up being jammed about a foot into some guy's house. Fortunately a lady who was following us saw the whole thing and was able to call 911 on her cellular phone. I was flown by helicopter to the hospital at the Univ. of Pennsylvania where I had three sessions of brain surgery. I was in a coma for three days and after I came out of that I was in something called an aphasia for about three weeks. I had an attention span of about 2 seconds - I was swearing, talking in numbers - actually consistent numbers my friend said. Then one morning I just magically woke up, rang for the nurse and asked for a newspaper to find out what day it was and why I was there. Doc: I remember following the saga in Computer underground Digest, and the initial prognosis for a full recovery sounded pretty grim. Are you pretty much back to your old self? Brendan: Yes, but with some interesting changes. During the third session of my brain surgery they had to take out a section of my left temporal lobe, which resulted in this "name memory" problem and sometimes a loss of short-term memory. (See the CuD archives at http://venus.soci.niu.edu/~cudigest/CUDS6/cud6.05 for more on the fascinating story of Kehoe's accident and recovery.) Doc: I understand you're considering a move from software engineering to teaching elementary school. Brendan: One of the interesting results of the whole accident thing was that it really pointed out the "fragility of life" to me, and that you should do things that you're going to be gratified for having done years later. Being a software engineer is fine and I can do all this cool stuff but I don't get much out of it. And I know that 2 or 3 years down the line everything I do will be completely changed. So as all this fragility of life stuff was hitting me I started really enjoying working with kids, reading things with them and things like that. I started going into classrooms to watch teachers work, and figure out what kind of stuff I'd be able to do and how it would feel. I was also volunteering at a support network for battered women - I'd keep the kids busy while the moms were in with a counselor. It was really interesting - escaping from a C++ meeting, spending an hour so playing with the kids and then returning to work. The difference between the two was amazing, and I started thinking "I suppose I could do this." Doc: So you're changing your occupation to a vocation... Brendan: Exactly. Everybody's telling me "Why you gonna do that - there's no way you can get anywhere near the money you're making now", but it's a trade-off depending on what you really want out of life. If I can figure out a way to live off a teacher's salary and continue writing Internet books it could work. It better! Doc: About your book - the title is an obvious play on "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" - is there any special significance to the "Zen" thing for you? Brendan: I had actually just finished reading Motorcycle Maintenance when I was finishing the first draft of my book, and I realized that a lot of the stuff that Robert Persig did in his book was to encourage people to learn the basics and then go off and learn more by themselves. This was the approach I was taking with "Zen", to give everybody the raw tools they need without deluging them in hundreds and hundreds of pages of random stuff - instead relying on them to take what I've given them and learn it in their own way. Doc: You were a student when you started the "Zen" book, right? Brendan: Yup, at a place called Widener University in Pennsylvania. While I was a student there I took on the job of becoming their UNIX system administrator. Widener had just gotten hooked up to the Net and nobody could figure out what in the world to do with it, so I started trying to figure it out for myself. I wasn't actually reading anything from anyone - just going exploring and trying all these different commands. When people saw that I was figuring it out I got hit with so many questions I was going nuts. So I thought why not just write it down, and that's where the idea of the online first edition of "Zen" came from. I took about four months of writing down all the questions I was being asked and putting it in a form that was usable. And after making it available to students at Widener I realized that people everywhere must have the same questions. So I figured "what the hell" and put it out on the Net. About two and a half weeks later I got a call from David Farber at University of Pennsylvania saying "How would you feel about making this a published book?" That was February of 1992, and I had the galley copy done by mid-April. The 4th Edition [ISBN 0-13-452914-6, $23.95] now has a chapter on the Web, a section on how to write your own home page, and an appendix on how to safely introduce your kids to the Net. Doc: I got a kick out of the opening paragraph on your zen.org site... "The Zen Internet Group is a very small, covert group of highly technical people struggling to overcome the drudgery of day-to-day life and burrow down into the world like a spoon into a banana split, splitting apart the atoms of closed-mindedness and tie-dyeing the very fabric of the universe, venting our frustrations at working on computers all day at work by coming home and working on a computer." ...Is the Zen Group for real, or it is just a whimsical thing? Brendan: I liked the idea of getting the zen.org domain so I thought I'd make up the Zen Internet Group in the hopes that maybe someday it will actually exist. We do get deluged with people asking us about the Zen religion, though. Doc: You've got a nice collection of "kids stuff" on your website. Tell me how that came about. Brendan: Originally it was just interesting things that I'd found, and I realized that there were all but they weren't in any one place. Even Yahoo hadn't been set up completely at that point. I realized that people might not be seeing good uses of the Net if it's all spread out like that, so I just put them all together and wound up with a mention in Yahoo and several other places. Now I'm getting lots of people sending me mail with suggestions for additions, and there are about 2000 hits per week. It would probably be better if I had a faster modem on my machine! Doc: How much e-mail do you handle on a daily basis? Brendan: Hmm, well over a hundred a day. I still get mail from top-level domains that I've never seen before so I have to go and figure out what country they're from. Doc: A lot of people see you as a kind of Internet hero. Who do you see as the people who have done the most good for the Net? Brendan: There's a group up in Canada called Bunyip that did Archie. Alan Emtage was one of the key guys there. The way that they set up Archie, along with the way folks at University of Nevada-Reno did Gopher together helped to really spawn the growth of the Net and all the stuff that's happening today. There's also David Farber at U. Penn who seems to be at the forefront of everything; and both Mitch Kapor and John Perry Barlow at EFF who I admire for their speeches on privacy and the Internet. Doc: Here's a real "gee whiz" question, and I'll forgive you if you don't have a good answer for it, but how do you see the Internet changing society or the way we live by the turn of the century? Brendan: I'm convinced that before the year 2000 we'll come up with a way for more people to afford it - it's still too elitist. You still need a really nice computer to be able to do it. There's a project going on out here in Sunnyvale now where you can get an Internet connection using just your existing cable and television [no computer required] for $30 a month. It's an interesting sign that they're trying to come up with ways to make it less expensive. One thing I'm positive that's gonna happen within the next year is that we'll solve the whole digital cash and electronic money thing. Right now there are three or four different approaches to doing secure transfers over the Net. Some of the projects underway now include really big names like Sun Microsystems and Microsoft so by the end of this year there should be some internationally agreed upon standard for doing secure money transfers, banking, and buying - it's just going to go right up through the roof. Doc: Any parting comments, oh great Zen Master of the Internet? :-) Brendan: When people ask me "Is the World-Wide Web it for the Net?" I have to tell them no, because it's just like if they'd asked me two years ago if Archie and Gopher were it. It's only limited by the human imagination and there's no way that our imaginations are going to stall on something like the Web. And now we've got Java coming up. There's always something new coming. There's no way anybody can be exactly up to date unless they sit in front of their computer with ten other people typing simultaneously. I've been saying if people wanna use the Net, go in and use it now - don't wait for it to get better. It's going to consistently get better and you're never going to find a stalling point. The Internet itself is going to have to change soon, because we're running out of addresses. There is a proposed 128-bit addressing scheme and people on the East coast are experimenting with a gigabit connection now. So yeah, it's gonna really transform, but there will be a lot of constants. E-mail will still be e-mail, probably very similar to the format it is now. We'll see a growing up and a firming up. Even if you look three years ago at the way things stood then compared to now it's amazing. It's funny when you hear Vint Cerf (one of the chief architects of the TCP/IP protocol) talk now - he can't believe the way some of the things have grown. And I'd love to know what Marc Andreessen really thinks about what Mosaic turned into, other than the fact that he's a billionaire now... Connecting With Brendan Kehoe ----------------------------- E-Mail : firstname.lastname@example.org Web : http://www.zen.org/~brendan ======================================================================== Join : Send SUBSCRIBE TOURBUS Your Name to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.AOL.COM Leave : Send SIGNOFF TOURBUS to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.AOL.COM Archives: On the Web at http://www.TOURBUS.com Advertising: E-mail BobRankin@MHV.net w/ Subject: SEND TBRATES =----------------------------------------------------------------------= Get The Scoop On --> "Doctor Bob's Painless Guide To The Internet" <-- Send e-mail to BobRankin@MHV.net w/ Subject: SEND BOOKINFO or browse reviews & sample chapters at http://biz.mhv.net/drbob NetGuide Magazine's Hot Product of the Month! ======================================================================== TOURBUS - (c) Copyright 1995-97, Patrick Crispen and Bob Rankin All rights reserved. Redistribution is allowed only with permission. 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