Gene Spafford's Axioms
Gene Spafford, a computer science professor at Purdue University, is well-known for his aphorisms regarding the Internet. Coined in the early days, when one of the biggest online functions was Usenet, the word "Internet" or the phrase "World Wide Web" can easily replace "Usenet" in his axioms, and they will remain just as true.
- Axiom #1: "The Usenet is not the real world. The Usenet usually does not even resemble the real world."
- Corollary #1: "Attempts to change the real world by altering the structure of the Usenet is an attempt to work sympathetic magic -- electronic voodoo."
- Corollary #2: "Arguing about the significance of newsgroup names and their relation to the way people really think is equivalent to arguing whether it is better to read tea leaves or chicken entrails to divine the future."
- Axiom #2: "Ability to type on a computer terminal is no guarantee of sanity, intelligence, or common sense."
- Corollary #3: "An infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of keyboards could produce something like Usenet."
- Corollary #4: "They could do a better job of it."
- Axiom #3: "Sturgeon's Law (90% of everything is crap) applies to Usenet."
- Corollary #5: "In an unmoderated newsgroup, no one can agree on what constitutes the 10%."
- Corollary #6: "Nothing guarantees that the 10% isn't crap, too."
- "Usenet is like a herd of performing elephants with diarrhea -- massive, difficult to redirect, awe-inspiring, entertaining, and a source of mind-boggling amounts of excrement when you least expect it."
- "Don't sweat it -- it's not real life. It's only ones and zeroes."
- "The only truly secure system is one that is powered off, cast in a block of concrete and sealed in a lead-lined room with armed guards - and even then I have my doubts."
- "Securing an environment of Windows platforms from abuse -- external or internal -- is akin to trying to install sprinklers in a fireworks factory where smoking on the job is permitted."
Posted August 4, 2008