Unix, Unixpeople, Usenix - from a non-compunerd's point of view...

Mike Tilson mike at hcradm.UUCP
Thu Oct 10 11:57:27 AEST 1985

I can just hear it now, across the continent:  "Flamethrowers to full power,
shields up, aim, ...."

Actually, there are threads of truth in these observations about
the UNIX community, although these truths are embedded in a rather
one-sided commentary.

As a member of the Usenix board, I would like to follow up on just one
point that has a bearing on the directions taken by Usenix Association and
by the Usenix conferences.  A somewhat unflattering comparison was made
between Usenix conferences and "real academic" conferences put on by
the IEEE or ACM.  In fact, I don't believe it is reasonable to make
a direct comparison -- the Usenix Association is an organization of
users and implementors of a certain operating system product.  You
come to Usenix because you work with UNIX and want to learn more about
UNIX or help to make it better.  However, you don't come to a Usenix
meeting because you are the chairman of your university's "Department
of UNIX Science".

A more apt comparison would be to DECUS meetings.  Usenix actually
tries quite hard to keep up the quality of presentations at its
meetings, and I think it compares very favorably with meetings
such as DECUS.  A certain number of papers actually do have very
significant intellectual and academic content.  However, not all
are up to this standard, *nor should they be*.  The conferences must
have some tolerance for nuts-and-bolts items, news from the inner
sanctum, etc.  Although I agree that this can become tiresome if
not controlled, I think that it would be wrong to treat Usenix
conferences as a fully refereed academic proceeding.

I am sure there is a spectrum of opinion on this matter, and my
opinion here is personal, and does not represent the official position
of the Usenix board.  Usenix members (and other interested parties)
are welcome to provide additional input about the orientation of
the conferences.

(Although I've been involved with UNIX and Usenix for a long time, I
seem to have missed out on the Usenix groupies.  Perhaps this is
fortunate. :-))

/Michael Tilson
/Human Computing Resources Corp.

More information about the Comp.org.usenix mailing list