Richard P. Gabriel

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Researcher at IBM Research, leader in LISP/OOP Community, author of “Innovation Happens Elsewhere”
dreamsongs.com
 @rpg

Richard P. ”Dick” Gabriel overcame a hardscrabble, working-class upbringing in the dreadfully industrialized and famously polluted Merrimack Valley of eastern Massachusetts to become one of the few genuine Renaissance men to emerge from the OO milieu: scholar, scientist, poet, performance artist, entrepreneur, musician, essayist, and yes, hacker…

Though somewhat less well-endowed of the effortless intellectual incandescence, easy charisma, and raw animal magnetism of so many of his generation of future object-oriented luminaries, he was able, with discipline, determination, and hard work, to survive the grueling demands of elite, first-tier academic institutions such as MIT, Stanford and UIUC to earn his PhD and become a leader among the burgeoning legions of Lisp-dom during the early nineties.

However, after a series of the inevitable, endemic startup setbacks that the Internet boom all too often left in its wake, Gabriel grew weary of the cold, cloistered, celibate tedium of engineering culture, and fell willing prey to the lure of the exotic social and intellectual stimulation and blandishments that only the Liberal Arts could offer.

And they, in turn, embraced this gruff emissary from the exotic, intimidating, but newly chic world of technology. Gabriel’s dissonant, desiccated, plainchant blank verse was dark, disturbing, distant, candid, calculating, and desperate, at once florid yet monochromatic. It could ”cons-up” a soul in a single haunting, searing stanza and remand it remorselessly, insouciantly to the heap in the next. It was like nothing that could be heard on the stale, staid, inbred Writers’ Workshop circuits of those times.

But then, as always, poetry alone seldom pays the bills, so the prodigal poet, like a salmon to spawn, returned to his object-oriented roots, proselytizing a newfound artistic sensibility to an aesthetically impoverished community.

His technological audiences, who had subsisted on bland, austere stylistic pabulum born of their collective status as a poor stepchild of mathematics, physics, and engineering, embraced his audacious set-piece guerilla performances and this novel aesthetic dimension in a manner akin to that in which Medieval European palates had embraced the infusion of spices from the East Indies.

His considerable successes in synthesizing the ”Two Cultures” in this software setting will likely stand as his enduring legacy.

Gabriel lives in Redwood City, CA, and works for International Business Machines Corporation as an itinerant enforcer. He likes to unwind by writing a poem every day.

YOW! 2015 Sydney

Writing a Writer

TALK – VIEW SLIDES

Imagine you are programming right now. Let that image sink in. What are you programming?

For the past two years I’ve been writing a program that manipulates language like a poet. In doing this I am using the software as an instrument to understand how writers think. I am programming it in Common Lisp. The output of that program has been judged master-level poetry by an expert audience. In this talk I’ll tell you how my program works and how it’s programmed. I suspect the programming I do is not like the programming you do.