Given the seriousness of Randy's situation, it was definitely worth the travel and the impact on an important paper deadline the next day.
Randy has been an important contributor in my field, human-computer interaction, over the last 15 years. He has been a mentor to me and also an example of how to have great positive impact on the world. I went to pay my respects to Randy while he was still alive and I came away inspired in several ways:
- Inspired to keep working hard at my teaching. Randy reminded me why I became a professor.
- Inspired to continue to work on creative research projects and invent the future. Randy's success with Alice shows that you can create tools that make a difference in unleashing the creativity of people who may not have the arbitrary technical background that current technology requires.
- Inspired to keep those first two activities in perspective with respect to the importance of my family and friends. Being a professor at a top rank department can be a lot of work, but in the end it is your family and friends that are really important. I have to admit that at times I do not find a great life-work balance and Randy's talk reminded me of the importance of finding this balance.