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A man who has his fingers in far too many pies, but gets away with it. His Philip and Alex's Guide to Web Publishing was one of the first and still one of the most highly regarded texts on web publishing. He is also a lecturer at MIT, where his course on software development for the Web is highly regarded. His e-mail address has not changed since 1976: philg@mit.edu. He has recently founded ArsDigita, which is a company that specialises in developing community-oriented web sites for Fortune 500 companies. They offer the ArsDigita Community Server as open source, and it's gaining a lot of recognition (it runs on top of AOLServer and Oracle). He is an avid photographer, and his site photo.net is considered one of the best sources for information on photography on the Web. It also hosts photo album services for thousands of people.

He's also quite an entertaining speaker and a genial guy, and obviously quite intelligent. Probably a multi-millionaire.

His home page: http://philip.greenspun.com/

A bit egotistical, but no wonder as many people treat him like some sort of messiah. You'll note a lack of links to ArsDigita on his websites, now that he is no longer in charge of that operation. Apparently, his qualities that make him a web celebrity did not translate into management skills. The company still seems to be doing alright in his absence, as he never had a technical role with the company.

His photo.net website still kicks ass, though.


update Jan 2003 - gnosis tells me ArsDigita crashed and burned a year ago...

fhayashi: how do you support statements like "never had a technical role in the company"? I've worked through several hundred pages of code with his name on them, and many more later hacked up by other ACSers. How is coding not technical??

I've found Philip to be quite pragmatic and open in person, but in his writing he comes off as a brash person with severe technical bigotry. He explains why at one point: when he was writing his thesis, his advisor taught him not to wrap his arguments in deflective 'I think' or 'suppose that' statements. After all, it's obvious that what the author wrote is what he thinks; and it should be obvious to the reader not to take the author's words as gospel. Most readers are not used to being taken seriously by the author in modern writing, and it shows.

There is just one other thing about Philip's brashness that I came to understand recently. Most of the technology industry is obsessed with secrecy on the grounds that someone will steal all their ideas. After open-sourcing some code recently and trying to drag some groups kicking and screaming into the 80's, I came to understand Philip's persistence and abruptness as the practical invocation of Howard Aiken's statement:

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats."

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