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Ontario Technoblog

Ontario Emperor technology blog.

This blog has been superseded by the mrontemp blog
Location: Ontario, California, United States

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Technology of Beanbag Chairs

Those attending Oracle OpenWorld know why I'm delving into this topic. Suffice it to say that I went to the Oracle Partner Network lounge after lunch to remotely view the Sun keynote, and for some strange reason I didn't take a lot of notes (other than "lower support fees for Solaris v10 vs. Red Hat?").

It turns out that beanbag chairs were controversial in prior years:

Bob Taylor, associate manager of the Computer Science Lab at [Xerox] Parc in Palo Alto, says there was a cultural divide between the other groups of physicists and industrial scientists at Parc and the two computer labs -- his hardware-focused Computer Science Lab and Alan Kay's software-oriented Systems Sciences Lab, which invented Smalltalk using the Alto....

"There were those who were formalists, and others who were iconoclastic, like the computer scientists," Taylor says. "The physicists liked wearing badges and all the formalisms of the corporate world. And they liked working 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We came in at noon and worked all night. And they accused us of being on dope and walking around barefoot and wearing our hair long," none of which was true, Taylor adds.

The schism between the two cultures was obvious when Taylor put in a requisition - at Peter Deutsch's (another Parc employee working on the Alto) suggestion -- to buy beanbag chairs for the conference rooms. Parc management tried to nix the idea, saying beanbag chairs would violate corporate standards and wouldn't be professional enough. So Taylor pulled a management trick of his own, suggesting he would have to write a memo back to Xerox headquarters explaining that Parc had shelled out $250 each for conference chairs when they could have spent $35 each for the beanbag chairs. And he got his way.

Ah, the technology:

With more stability and support than its rivals, this beanbag chair with matching ottoman is designed for grownups. Heavyweight and durable 100% cotton cover with polypropylene fill. Available in black, denim, khaki, celadon, light blue, light yellow or hot pink. USA.

The beanbag chairs here, by the way, are sponsored by Novell.


Blogger Jared said...

I think you got about the same out of the keynote as I did...don't forget "IBM = Dumb, Dell = Hot Servers, both are over priced." Now repeat those things multiple times...I did enjoy the keynote and the video though!

On another note, it was nice to meet you! Good luck with the rest of the conference!

Blogger Ontario Emperor said...

For those who weren't there, the referenced video talked about the idea of "good enough." In a wicked Dell parody, an IT manager said that Dell was "good enough," then proceeded to show how the massive amounts of overheating computers were being used to cook food, etc. As Davey G used to say, it's a competitive world.

Good to see you also, Jared.


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