Opinion 18: Portrait of a Machino-Phobic as a Home(page)less Mathematician

By Doron Zeilberger

Written: Sept. 28, 1997

I used to get mad, and offended, at mathematicians who speak against the computer revolution, be they counter-calculus-reformists, or anti-electronic-publications, or rigor-fanatics. One of the most vociferous, and obnoxious, amongst them, is Steven Krantz, that found a captive audience in the members of the AMS, where he is serving as associate editor of their NOTICES.

Then I went to my beloved medium, and used the standard search engines, to find the impact of Krantz and a few others like him, on the web. I was not surprised to see that it was minimal. They don't even have a minimal homepage! Any computer-literate teen-ager has a greater presence than Krantz and his cronies. In other words, these grumblers are poor home(page)less people, who are unable, and hence unwilling, to invest half an hour in learning how to set up a homepage.

So to all you homeless Krantzes, Magids and Rossis out there, my advice to you is: stop mouthing off and GET A LIFE, Electronic of course, and Build Yourself a Home(page).

Even if you are completely e-illiterate, all you have to do is grab anyone under thirty (for example, one of your graduate or even undergraduate students), ask them to do the following:

  1. In your home directory type: mkdir public_html
  2. chmod 755 public_html
  3. cd public_html
  4. Go into your favorite browser (lynx is fastest):
  5. download the source of the homepage of any mathematician (in Lynx(for example), you press the backslash (to get the source) and then press P, and respond to the prompt (see next step))
  6. Save it as index.html
  7. chmod 755 *
  8. Edit index.html, by changing the name to your name etc.
  9. Have a link to your directory of papers, make sure that the permission of the directory and files is still 755.
Now, your papers are no longer mere `dust-gathering' static documents, but alive! People can read them, and if they wish even download them, and who knows? perhaps even print them out! in the comfort of their own (real, not virtual) homes.

More importantly, you will notice soon a personality change. Before you know it you will lose that paper-pomposity and rejoice in being an active member of our global electronic village.

Update Added June 1, 1998: Steven Krantz is homeless no more! Visit Professor Krantz's Electronic Abode
Addendum by Greg Kuperberg (retracted, 11/9/1998).

Added 2/12/99: My message to Prof. Krantz (2/12/1999).
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