Cliff Stoll

Posted: 31 March 2015 | Journal Home

When I was 6 I wanted to be an astronomer.

When I was 16 I got interested in theoretical physics.

When I was 18 I passed physics class because my teacher was nice to me. It was during that time in high school that everything came crashing down. Math just wasn't syncing in and neither was physics. All that time of reading astronomy books, when it all seemed understandable, was gone.

So I entered college still thinking about a degree in astronomy but I jumped around to various majors, totally lost. Not that I'm found now mind you. I like(?) what I do but there's still something missing. Computers became my field of work, specifically the web. I always liked doing something new. That's why I don't do as much blogging, tweeting, and no more Facebook. I've always liked doing what few do and then when everyone else starts doing it it's just not fun anymore.

So I continued to search for the outsiders, the people who are passionate about what they did and oddly enough agreed with me. (Well, OK, I agreed with them since they came before me.) One of those was Cliff Stoll. When I read The Cuckoo's Egg several years ago it helped keep my strength up and regain interest in the computing world. It's a book that ranks up there in my top books along with the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, Marshall McLuhan, and Ken Robinson.

Another huge influence from Dr. Stoll was his 2006 TED Talk. He said, “The first time you do something it's science. The second time it's engineering. Third time it's just being a technician.” That really resonated with me. I wanted to do the first time stuff but had fallen into the technician category. I've strived to go back to stage one and although I've not always been successful, I continue to try as I search for that one thing I love to do. That search for my voice.

Since almost all of those I find interesting in history are dead, I wanted something from one of them while they were actually alive. I finally ordered a signed copy of The Cuckoo's Egg.

Our views about technology and education are incredibly similar and it makes me glad that I'm not alone. So similar, that I've been proving some things he talks about to myself for the past decade.

I wish he had been my teacher.

All Tech'd Out: Computers in Schools - Inner Compass from Calvin College on Vimeo.