Are Undergrads, more valuable then working professionals?

David H. Wolfskill david at
Sat Mar 23 01:23:40 AEST 1991

In article <1991Mar14.001156.15961 at> pat at (Pat Bahn) writes:

>Question:  Are Undergrads more valuable then working professionals?

>Answer:  Yes, at least according to Usenix policy....

>Now, if one is a working professional, and currently without an
>employer, as far as Usenix is concerned, you are SOL...

Based on the thrust of the later parts of the posting, it seems
reasonable to interpret the above "currently without an employer" as
"currently without employment" -- perhaps a subtle distinction.

However, I confess to a certain amount of puzzlement in attempting to
reconcile how someone who is currently without employment might be
considered a *working* professional.

(No, I'm not trying to be especially obtuse; it may be argued that I do
so naturally anyhow, though....  :-)

>Of course, I believe this policy  implies that  people who have left
>academia of course have no debts, make a big or regular salary and can
>afford this as a pofessional expense.

Well, you're entitled to the opinion -- but I fail to understand how you
arrived at it.

>Now if one is without a job, typically, you don't have that much
>survival time until homelessness occurs.  hence job hunting is

Sure it is; no argument there.  The net can be a very useful resource
for a lot less money -- I have been giving away accounts on this
machine.  (Sorry, the filesystem where folks have their personal files
is quite full, so I'm not accepting new requests until that's changed.)

>Usenix provides a place for people to network and hear of opportunities,
>as well as brush up technical skills by listening to papers as well
>as attending tutorials.

As for the ability to "network" (I confess to a certain discomfort in
thinking of "to network" as a verb), I suggest that a conference tends
to emphasize synchronous communication, while media such as the net
emphasize asynchronous communication.  (That is, for the former, the
parties involved need to be devoting resources to the communication at
the same time, while with the latter, there is a "time ordering"
constraint, but the resources need not be devoted at the same time.)  I
suggest that asynchronous communication allows one to involve more
parties with a given amount of effort -- which would seem ideal for

Also, the conference proceedings are available even to folks who don't
make it to USENIX -- fortunately for me:  I happen to have regular
employment (for which I am thankful)... but it has nothing whatsoever
to do with UNIX or USENIX.  This machine (that I am using now) is our
(my wife's & mine) personal machine; I bought its original incarnation
in late 1984 because I believed then that it would probably be useful
for me to have unrestricted access to a machine that could run a "real"
operating system, have access to USENET, and allow me to learn some C
and UNIX.

Although my employment then (and employment now -- different employer,
similar work -- I call it "migrant labor" :-) does not involve UNIX, I
have not regretted the decision.  I fully expect that at some point in
the (not-too-distant) future, some of the knowledge I have thus gained
will be put to good use for an employer.  (Indeed, I have been able to
point out a few things to colleagues, based on information I've picked
up -- some of it even from the net...!)

In any case, I joined /usr/group (which now calls itself "UniForum") and
USENIX -- largely because I perceived that much of what they were doing
was generally good.  (BTW, "kudos" to the USENIX board -- I continue to
be impressed by the things you are able to accomplish... publishing the
BSD manuals, getting UUNET started, and publishing Computing Systems
come immediately to mind.)

I am able to attend USENIX only when it's in Anaheim (the convention
center is about halfway between home & work) -- and then I took vacation
time to do it.

Even if the USENIX Assn. were to allow me to attend absolutely free, I
wouldn't be able to attend elsewhere -- what with travel, food, &
lodging expense -- without going through a lot more hassle than I have
time for (except maybe SF Bay area -- my parents live in Pacifica).

>I propose that Usenix offer a 50% discount to unemployed attendees.

>Pros:  It's socially responsible, it keeps people in the business and
>	it won't cost much.

Saying "it won't cost much" is one thing; backing this up with figures
is another.  I'd prefer to work with the numbers before making a
judgement.  Putting on a conference involves real money, which must come
from somewhere.

>Cons:  It creates a job hunting environment, it's hard to administer
>	it may cost us revenue base.

Indeed; if a "job hunting environment" is created, more employers may
well be less inclined to send folks.  Some conferences explicitly
discourage such activity for this (stated) reason.

>I guess, we would have to use thehonor system, but are we not a
>community that implicityly trusts one another?  

Probably less so as time passes....  :-}

>Well, what does the community think?  and what odes the board think?

This part of the community thinks that it's probably a good thing that
you brought up the issue; however, I also think that those involved in
the issue should take a giant step back & re-analyze what is the problem
that you are attempting to address, whether or not it is reasonably the
job of the USENIX Assn. to address the problem, and if so, how we might
do so.

Hope there's enough useful up there to make it worth reading,
David H. Wolfskill
uucp: ...{spsd,zardoz,felix}!dhw68k!david	InterNet: david at
CompuServe: >internet:david at

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