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Uber Virtual World Guru’s Final Accomplishment

By John | December 11, 2007

When I asked my oncologist if I could go scuba diving, he thought for a while and said, “Medically, I can’t think of any reason you can’t …. but I have to admit, it’s not a question that comes up very often for metastatic pancreatic cancer patients!”

I’m not sure if you have heard of Randy Pausch. A lot of people have, though I hadn’t until this morning. He has been on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, CBS, and he was even named person of the week by Charels Gibson of ABC. image Randy Pausch is a 46-year-old professor at Carnegie Mellon and father of three who has pancreatic cancer and expected to live for just a few more months. As bad as his plight might seem, you might be wondering how does that get him back stage passes with Sting? It doesn’t. I virtually bumped into Randy Pausch this morning while doing some research on online learning tools. I am always on the look out for free educational resource for my “someday-I-may-do” Open Source In the Hood project. I also have five- and nine-year-old boys, so I am also always on the look out for any special tools that could accelerate their learning. The program that I found this morning is called Alice, specifically Storytelling Alice, which is an off-shoot of Alice (i.e., an Alice for Kids). I downloaded StoryTelling Alice and gave it my three-tire kick, and it passed the test. Both Alice and StoryTelling Alice are teaching tools for introductory computing. They use 3D graphics and drag-and-drop interfaces to facilitate a pleasurable first time learning “programming” experience. After Alice passed the three-tire kick test, I decided to write a short blog about it. I had no idea that, after 10 minutes into my research, I would be crying my eyes out over this Randy Pausch character. The interesting thing is that I wasn’t crying because he is dying. I was crying about the way he is living. During my research I stopped to listen to a video lecture he did at Carnegie Mellon in September of this year. Apparently, a common practice these days is for college professors give a “Last Lecture” series where top professors give hypothetical “final” talks to give their students parting wisdom. The ironic thing was that this really was Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture,” but you wouldn’t have guessed it by professor Pausch’s jovial demeanor. A clear, better than I have ever seen, don’t cry for me kind of guy. His last lecture was all about the happiness of what he had accomplished in his life. With death chasing him down the halls, he is challenging anyone in the lecture hall to beat him in a push up contest. About a week ago, death was totally dis-discombobulated because professor Pausch was in the last place death could ever think of looking for someone in his condition (scuba diving in the Cayman Islands Dec 1 2007).

Yeah, you might say that it was his “Last Lecture” that probably nailed him those back stage passes with Sting. For me, he deserved those passes because of contributions to virtual worlds and more importantly his ability to make death seem more like life than death. Ultimately, if people watch his video for years to come, that might become his final virtual world accomplishment (i.e., virtualizing death into looking like life). I suspect that I will watch his video many times throughout my life because professor Pausch has definitely affected the dreams of my family due to our virtual encounter today. Here are a few choice quotations from the lecture:

It’s not about how to achieve your dreams.

It’s about how to lead your life.

If you lead your life the right way.

The Karma will take care of itself.

The dreams will come to you.

If I have seemed a tad bit glib in some of my comments, reserve your judgement till after you have viewed the video. Once you see Randy’s “Last Lecture” video, I am sure that you will agree he would have appreciated the humor. May god bless him and his family.

Other links about Randy Pausch

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Topics: alice, pausch, virtual worlds | 8 Comments »

8 Responses to “Uber Virtual World Guru’s Final Accomplishment”

  1. Top 5 Technology Watch List for 2008 at John M Willis Says:
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