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SubjectIRC (was: Scheduler)
On December 18, 2001 10:02 pm, Larry McVoy wrote:
> Maybe I'm an old stick in the mud, but IRC seems like a big waste of
> time to me. It's perfect for off the cuff answers and fairly useless
> for thoughtful answers. We used to write well thought out papers and
> specifications for OS work. These days if you can't do it in a paragraph
> on IRC it must not be worth doing, eh?

Hi Larry,

It's a question of using the right tool for the job. As you know, email is
no substitute for a traditional everybody-in-one-room design meeting. These
days, with development distributed all over the world it's just not practical
for everyone to physically get together more than a few times a year, so what
can we do? Right, hang on IRC.

In some ways IRC is more efficient than a face-to-face meeting:

- You can do other things at the same time without offending anyone

- Everything is logged for reference

- You can copy code examples and URLs into the channel

- It's normal to send/forward emails, perhaps with traditional papers
attached, patches, whatever, while talking on the channel, or as a
result of talking on the channel

- It's there 24 hours a day

- You can leave the meeting and do work any time you want to, as opposed to
keeping some portion of a group of highly paid engineers bored and idle
for hours at at time.

IRC also solves a big problem for distributed companies: how can you be sure
that your people are actually on the job? (You ping them on IRC and they

While there's no doubt about IRC's value, there's also a danger: IRC is
addictive. You can easily end up spending all your time there, and doing
very little design/coding as a result. That's a matter of self-discipline.

To put this into a more immediate perspective for you, suppose you wanted to
get some traction under your SMP Clusters proposal? I'd suggest it's already
been kicked around as much as it's going to be on lkml, and you already wrote
your paper, so the next step would be to get together face-to-face with some
folks who have a clue. Well, unless you're willing to wait months for the
right people to show up in the Bay Area, IRC is the way to go.

Come on in, the water's fine ;-)

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