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The Wit & Wisdom on the Internet

By: Scott Bradner

Since this column will be published approximately on April 1st, I'm going to follow a long tradition in technology circles. For as long as I've been associated with technology and, I assume, far longer than that, April 1st has been seen as an opportunity to engage in a bit of parody or plain sillyness.

For example, a few years ago, on April 1st, a major semiconductor manufacturer published a data sheet for a write-only memory. It was claimed to be ideal for the recording of status information in missile warheads.

It is quite common in the Internet for people to append some quote to the end of their message. These are often referred to as a .sig after the name of the file that is automatically included by some UNIX-based news clients. These quotes are used by some to convey a political viewpoint but most often, they are humorous tidbits.

So, taking the occasion of April 1st to get un-serious, here is a sampling of what passes as wit and wisdom on the Internet.

Self description: "High-tech men are body by Volkswagen, brains by Cray, heart by Frigidaire, personality by Metamucil." -- Guy Kawasaki

On Western civilization: 'I think it would be a good idea.' -- Mahatma Gandhi

On netnews and its similarity to elephants: "Usenet is like a herd of performing elephants with diarrhea --massive, difficult to redirect, awe-inspiring, entertaining, and a source of mind-boggling amounts of excrement when you least expect it." -Gene Spafford

On reaching goals: "By the time you can make ends meet, they move the ends" -- Unknown

Thinkers, advice to: Never express yourself more clearly than you think. ---N. Bohr

Standards process, influences on "Thou are slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men. "- Donne

Standards process, futility of: "Emerging Standard: one that has not yet been superseded." --Paul Brooks

Positive thinking in the technology age: "We're all just crash dummies on the information highway."-- Steve Worona

Programmer's lament #1: "If it's bug free, it's obsolete" -- Jim Roberts

Programmer's lament #2: "It's hard to make a program foolproof because fools are so ingenious." -- Unknown

Logic, indescribable: "If we do not succeed, then we face the risk of failure" --Dan Quayle

Work groups, on the difficulty of: It's difficult to work in a group when you're omnipotent. -- Q, (in StarTrek)

Fantasy book, result of reading too many: "The light at the end of the tunnel may be an oncoming dragon" - Unknown

Roots, on man's need for same: "Money-the root of all evil. Man needs roots." -- Unknown

Cyberspace, advantages of: " "I am a happy nerd in cyberspace, where nobody can see my haircut."-Dave Barry

On the cost of overloading words: "When I make a word do a lot of work like that, I always pay it extra." H. Dumpty

Thanks to a number of you readers who have sent me quotes over the last year.

I'm not sure a disclaimer is needed here, but just in case, don't blame Harvard for any of this whimsy, since whimsy is not official University policy.