Yesterday, I read John Markoff’s NYT article about Steven McGeady, the former Intel software guru, who testified against Microsoft about their unfair competition against Netscape, despite threats from Intel that he’d be fired. (Thanks, Dave, for the link.)
I was surprised to learn that McGeady studied physics at my alma mater, Reed College, and that he’s now on Reed’s board of trustees, despite not having graduated. I was also surprised to learn that Steve Jobs is another Reed dropout. (I graduated in 1992 with a B.A. in music composition.)
I have to disagree with Markoff’s characterization of McGeady as “unusual even by Reed’s standards”. While this may be true now, as over the last thirty years Reed has become a much more conservative and mainstream institution, the Reed College of the ’60s and ’70s was known for seeking out students who don’t fit the normal American educational mold. They would seek out people who are intelligent, adventuresome, and willing to take risks, but who for whatever reason, didn’t quite fit in during their grade-school years. McGeady seems to fit that bill pretty well.
Even when I attended, in the late ’80s and early ’90s, the culture at Reed was one of relative open-mindedness. I was accepted in 1987, despite my somewhat spotty grades in high school, though my SAT scores were pretty high.
While I was there, you could still get P.E. credit for skydiving or bowling. There were even persistent rumors that there was a student who got P.E. credit for sex, but I never found out if the rumors were true, and didn’t have enough sex myself to test the system.
Reed has long been known as having a student body of very high integrity, which was defined originally by the first class of Reed students 1911, in a philosophy called the “Honor Principle“, which applies to students, faculty and staff, alike. Though revised over the years, the spirit reamins the same. Here’s how the faculty defined the Honor Principle in 1973:
“The members of the Reed College community believe that they should take upon themselves a responsibility for maintaining standards of conduct which insure an atmosphere of honesty and mutual trust in their academic and social lives. Such standards of conduct rest upon a principle of honor rather than a constitutional system of right and law. This principle entails the unquestioned integrity of the individual in all areas of his intellectual activity, and a shared responsibility for enabling the college as a whole to achieve its highest aims as a community of scholarship and learning. The honor principle also demands the respectful concern of each person for the other, and the exercise of conscionable judgment in all actions toward individuals and their property.”
Almost everyone I knew at Reed took the Honor Principle very seriously, and I still follow its spirit to this day. It seems as though McGeady does as well, and in that respect he’s not an a-typical Reedie at all. His actions bear that out. Too bad Gates and Balmer weren’t Reedies…
CNET: For Microsoft employees, it’s business as usual. “Thursday’s appeals court decision, which spared the company a breakup but said it illegally maintained a monopoly, seems to have landed with a dull thud in Redmond… [One] employee, who works on the Xbox gaming console, said he couldn’t spare the time or energy to look into the appeals ruling. ‘Let the lawyers do their jobs, and we will continue to do ours,’ he said.”
Are Microsofties too busy or overworked to care about the integrity of the company they work for?
Looks like Salon is now including mp3 downloads as part of their premium service.
Morons.Org: Timeless Commentary. “When you’re young and virile and 16, you can put anything in your mouth and swallow it, and live another day, because you have a powerful gastrointestinal system made of titanium and tempered steel. When you get to be my age, it’s made of something more like tin foil and paper mache. Denny’s food is made of sodium hydroxide and lard.”
New Scientist: Quantum dots to barcode DNA.