He was certainly the greatest "research manager" in his field, and because of this had the largest influence in a time of the greatest funding for computing research. It is impossible to overpraise his impact and to describe just how he used his considerable personality to catalyze actions.
The key idea was to have a great vision yet not try to drive it from the funders on down, but instead "fund people not projects" by getting the best scientists in the world to "find the problems to solve" that they thought would help realize the vision.
An important part of how this funding was carried out was not just to find the best scientists, but to create them. Many of the most important researchers at Xerox PARC were young researchers in ARPA funded projects. Bob was one of the creators of this process and carried it out at ARPA, Xerox PARC, and DEC.
He was one of those unique people who was a central factor in a deep revolution of ideas.
Is anyone doing this today?
Bell Labs had this practice in the early 20th century, ARPA, Xerox PARC, and DEC it seems in the latter thanks to Bob.
"Create/develop the best" isn't a mentality or practice that I see in the tech world today. Unfortunately it's an idea and practice that also seems lost in my own field of education.
(edited a typo)
Lots of integrated circuit funding for satellites, ICBM missile systems, etc.
Because of circumstances, Israel has been the leader in drone technology and a leader in water desalinization and drip irrigation and water reuse. But Israel is a small country the size and population the size of New Jersey. Only so much a country of 8 million can do.
If we had the mindset of Israel throughout the US imagine the amount of good R&D that would come out of it.
My favorite Bob Taylor story is about the "class 1" versus "class 2" disagreement. Not sure which is which, but in the preferred case, the two parties are able to state each other's position to the other's satisfaction. One of his tricks as a manager was to help the parties get to that state.
This is either from Rheingold's Tools for Thought or Doug Smith's book.
update: kind of but not exactly like this great scene from Horace & Pete https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iRM1iN-3a4
The Myths of Creativity, David Burkus
Part of these meetings were presentations by PARC researchers. However, it was not a gantlet to be run, and it was not to train people to argue in a constructive way (most of the computer researchers at PARC were from ARPA community research centers, and learning how to argue reasonably was already part of that culture).
Visitors from Xerox frequently were horrified by the level of argument and the idea that no personal attacks were allowed had to be explained, along with the idea that the aim was not to win an argument but to illuminate. Almost never did the participants have to be reminded about "Class 1" and "Class 2", etc. The audience was -not- determined to prove the speaker wrong. That is not the way things were done.
"no holds barred" - used to convey that no rules or restrictions apply in a conflict or dispute.
Perhaps this Burkus quote would make a good comment on the NYT article page?
EDIT: or not - see "This [Burkus quote] is overdrawn and misses the process and the intent." alankay1 https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14115147
> Aumann's agreement theorem says that two people acting rationally (in a certain precise sense) and with common knowledge of each other's beliefs cannot agree to disagree.
Most disagreements are to be found in the priors, which is why defining terms and trying to agree what the relevant priors are can be very useful.
How to compose a successful critical commentary:
1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.
2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.
tl;dr - Take the standard turing test that attempts to distinguish between human and computer generated text, and change the parameters slightly so that it attempts to distinguish between "this is what I believe" and "this is what my opponents believe".
Dealers of Lightning does a great job detailing his role in it all - https://www.amazon.com/Dealers-Lightning-Xerox-PARC-Computer... that along with soul of a new machine really capture the spirit of that 60s/70s generation of computing.
This one tells the story from the precursors to time-sharing to PARC, using the figure of J.C.R. Licklider as a pivot, and was recommended by Alan Kay as better than Dealers of Lightning. I personally enjoyed both.
This must bring tears to the eyes of every researcher today.
(One of my hobbies is contact flickr photographers and asking them if they're interested in having their pictures used on Wikipedia.)
> Taylor was known for his high-level vision and invention of the "any" key: "The Internet is not about technology; it's about communication and choice, if you want to press any key. The Internet connects people who have shared interests, ideas and needs, regardless of geography."
What? Am I understanding correctly that this is a joke about "the any key"? :-)
Then I see the black line and same name. Sad. Least he got to execute his vision, innovate, help change the world, and live a long life before he died. Best any of us can hope for.
>> In 1970, Taylor founded the Computer Science Laboratory (CSL) of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (Xerox PARC). Through the 1970s, CSL researchers became known worldwide for a number of important innovations necessary to the creation of the Internet. CSL invented and built Ethernet, the laser printer, and the PUP (PARC Universal Packet) protocol. PUP was introduced seven years in advance of the implementation of the Internet protocol, TCP/IP. Within Xerox, all of these technologies enabled the construction of the first internet.
There were key figures. For example, Parc would not have succeeded without Bob Taylor, Butler Lampson, Chuck Thacker, and a few others.
The link: https://www.quora.com/What-made-Xerox-PARC-special-Who-else-...
We lost a giant.
For all the bs in the valley about changing the world, here's a man that truly did it.
And to the ACM - you should be ashamed of yourself. How do you give Tim Berners-Lee an award and not the team st Xerox Parc. For the web? Are you kidding me? It's going to take another 25 years to correct what he's done. I guess teams don't play in as well as allure of the single creator individual.
To Alan and those that are left from the group at Xerox Parc - thank you. For the team at HARC - let this be a reminder that time is short and there's ton to do.
An incredible amount of positive energy was rereleased in a new form back into the universe. May your legacy shape others.
This involves teams, and -- for example -- the award in baseball is a "world series ring" for everyone involved in the effort. The standard awards -- including the Draper, which does award to more than one person, are really more like "most valuable player" awards -- which quite misses the point in large scale edge of the art computing research.
I echo luckydude's comment--sad to see him go. R.I.P.
I highly recommend the read. He deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the results of his participation in all the technologies we use today.
Alan Kay seems to be here commenting; any insights from you Alan on the conversion of ARPA to DARPA and good non-defense alternatives to what DARPA does now?
J.C.R. Licklider and Robert W. Taylor
That said, if I could say one thing to young people about people dieing, it's this: find the people who matter to you and get a video camera and go get them to talk. Apply some wine if that helps, whatever. Get them loose and get them to talk. Ask them how they got to be where they are, ask them what they would like to pass on, let them talk. Old people are just you only ahead of you.
What I would give to have had the balls to go do that with Dennis Ritchie. I didn't know him that well, we talked about Unix stuff quite a few times but I doubt he would remember me. But I'm sure, 100% sure, that he would have let me go get him to talk on camera.
The goal is not to be inclusive of everyone that is subjectively regarded as being deserving of recognition. The goal is specifically to celebrate Bob Taylor. Nothing more and nothing less. It is a subjective decision - one which you have no control over - as are many aspects of HN. I applaud HN for continuing with the black bar; the lack of someone getting that bar does not devalue their contribution in any manner.
It keeps happening to me, I have to email them and someone other than dang answers the email and apologises for the limit being applied, then gets rid of it. Of course, being in another time zone I find it takes quite a long time, and in fact the rate limit never seems to get removed even after a day.
Since we've discussed these matters at length in the past, another lengthy discussion is unlikely to accomplish much.
The reasons are much the same as before, which means you have a bit of work to do to figure out what you need to do differently if you want to post freely to HN. Sending demanding emails is not doing that work. In fact it's a signal that you're not doing it. Sincere effort will go a much longer way.
Here are the problematic posts:
- a comment where I say that we need to have civil discourse, after which dang tells me I'm trolling (which is truly remarkable...) - he then detached it from the thread and at this point I got rate limited https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12911140
- a post where I talked about depression and suicidality on a story about suicide and depression https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12901679
- a light hearted response about the days before Twitter https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12905863
Just before then I recall researching and posting a detailed comment on query tuning and analysis in database engines, and a number of other informative and well received comments.
When the mods here have got it in for you, they've got it in for you.
I like to hope that they're doing lots of good work in the backend of HN, but what I see on the frontend is almost uniformly negative.
But somehow other than unix, there are many missing links. This is one Key one.
Thanks Robert. Unless if matrix come, thanks.