Headline Aug 24, 2014/



Just one very short digression to pay homage to a very great teacher:

Professor Javed Kamran Bashir, Aitcheson and Oxford (honours)  department of political science, University of Punjab,  {the one I had the honour to mention in my last post,}   was, and will always remain, the greatest teacher Pakistan will ever produce.

"A persona non grata".  Idealist and fearless, maniacal and selfless, he mesmerised the students with his knowledge and insights. And he taught all the time and everywhere, and anyone, who cared to attend.

He was a true renaissance professor. Suspended from teaching, ever and ever, -and then terminated, by the university, he continued teaching from his beautiful home in Gulberg, Lahore.

His country put a low definition on his life and work. But that's miserably beside the point. Till he lived, his doors and his heart  lay  flung open for every student ;  and to whom he gave all his worldly possessions and support  
And now the post: 

The publicity around Dr Gelernter's work may explain why Ted Kacynski, an anti-technology terrorist known as the Unabomber, decided to target him with a letter bomb in 1993.

Mr Kaczynski hoped to foment a worldwide revolution against the "industrial technological system" and sent a series of letter bombs, causing three deaths and many injuries before being arrested in 1996.

The letter bomb sent to Dr Gelernter put him in hospital for weeks, required him to undergo surgery and left him with permanent injuries to his right eye and right hand, which he covers with a glove.

"Whenever I get to feeling a bit morose and missing my old right hand, I wind up thinking instead how privileged I am to be an academic in computer science." he wrote to his friends by e-mail after leaving hospital.

"In the final analysis one decent typing hand and an intact head is all you really need."

The attack prompted Dr Gelernter to branch out into new areas beyond computing. While convalescing he wrote an acclaimed book about the  1939  New York World's  Fair, and he has gone on to establish himself as a political commentator, art critic and painter.

He was originally attracted to  computer science because he thought it would be a solid career that would allow him to pursue his live painting.

At the same time Dr Gelernter pressed on to with his work as a computer scientist.
In 1997, he and his colleague Eric Freeman formed a company, also called Mirror Worlds, to develop an approach called  "Lifestreams"  - a graphical user interface intended:

To replace the windows and files of conventional computer desktops, with an elegant chronological stream of digital objects.

Looking like an endless Rolodex, a lifestream would extend from the moment of your birth to the day of your death. Something like !WOW!.

Containing every document, photo, message or web page you have ever interacted with   -all in a single, searchable stream, and held safely online. Individual items could be shared with other people.

"When I want to make something public, I flip a switch, and everyone in the world who's interested sees it," says Dr Glernter. "I could also blend millions of other streams into mine, with a simple way to control the flow of information:

So I am not overwhelmed. It would be my personal life, my public life and my confidential electronic diary."

If that sounds an awful like Facebook, the similarities become almost eerie when Dr Glernter explains how he hoped to release lifestreams into the world:

"I wanted the company to build software for college students, who are eager early adopters. It would be designed not only to eliminate the systems but also but also to be real-time messaging medium.

Social networking was the important aspect of it. Starting with Yale, we would give it away for free to get undergraduates excited about recommending it to their friends," he says.

But  Mirror Worlds' investors decided that it would be better to focus on corporate clients, and the result was an organizational tool called Scopeware.

It sold modestly, to a few large American state agencies, but never took off.
Mirror Worlds ceased trading in 2004, the same year that Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook.

The story of Mirror Worlds was not over yet, however. In 2008, the company now owned by a hedge fund, revived itself and filed suit against Apple for patent infringement.

Between  1996   and  2003, Gelernter and Dr Freeman had generated a number of patents relating to the idea of Lifestreams.

These patents, the firm argued, were being infringed by several Apple products, including its Spotlight search feature. Its Cover Flow interface for displaying album covers  iTunes and its Time Machine backup software.

A countersuit from Apple accused Dr Gelernter of hiding prior art relating to his patents and misrepresenting his inventorship.

Dr Gelernter thus found himself at war with Jobs, one of the few figures in the computer industry who shared his views on the importance of technology being subservient to users, rather than the other way around.

The Honour and Serving of the writing continues. Thank you for reading and see you on the next one.

With respectful dedication to the loving memory of  Professor Javed Kamran Bashir, Department of Political Science, University of Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan.
Thank you, Sir!

With respectful dedication to the Students of the world. See Ya all on !WOW! -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

" The Digital Subscriptions "

Good Night and God Bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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