Monday, October 01, 2007

Randy Pausch and Collaboration

I thought I had blogged about Randy Pausch's opening plenary talk at CHI in 2005, but apparently I didn't, and now I can't find his handout on teamwork. I know it's floating somewhere. But there are a couple of sites with notes: Usability News and the CHI 2005 conference website (the Conference on Human Computer Interaction, spelled CHI so it's pronouncable, hah).

I thought of his talk last week when I was giving a talk about design, stressing the difficulty and value in cross-disciplinary collaboration to an engineering company. (I've also been lurking on the Alice site wondering when the next version would come out, so this was timely!)

In his plenary, Randy had a bunch of great points about how hard teamwork between artists and developers is, particularly in our technocentric culture. Some of the points from the CHI summary:

  • Neither side can be in service of the other
  • A goal "above" either discipline really helps
  • Different disciplines have different values, moral and otherwise

It's a form of prejudice to assume that people who aren't technical aren't valuable during the design process. Despite being quite technical myself by design standards, I run into this pretty frequently at the places I work. Randy himself is an arrogant geek SOB (as he'd admit) but he has some ability to recognize and verbalize these issues, which means there's hope for others too -- if they're as smart as he is and capable of self-reflection. His students will probably do some great good in the world, after they get tired of the game industry.

Speaking of hope, Randy's dying of pancreatic cancer at 46; and his last lecture was televised here. He's surprisingly young and healthy, but he doesn't expect to live beyond a few months more. That's the world we've got, but it's still fun and funny, if you listen to Randy talk about being a kid and growing up to do the things he always wanted to do.

Recommended, especially the part on mentors. (Thanks for the link, Xiaoyu.)

1 comment :

Sara Gold said...

Some lessons from Randy Pausch’s last lecture that especially moved me:

1. Brick walls are there for a reason: they let us prove how badly we want things.
2. Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.
3. Never lose the child-like wonder.
4. If we do something which is pioneering, we will get arrows in the back. But at the end of the day, a whole lot of people will have a whole lot of fun.
5. Be good at something; it makes you valuable.
6. If you live your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself, and the dreams will come to you.

Check out the tribute quiz on the lecture at : you can add your own questions at the end of the quiz.