Google. Sun. Yahoo. HP. Cisco. And?

You might think I’m stupid. Dumb. Lame. Irrelevant. Arrogant. Or worse.

But this guy is none of those things. In fact, he’s the opposite of all those things.

So, why is Mehran Sahami worth listening to?

He runs Stanford University’s undergraduate computer science department.

We have a 45-minute-long discussion about what’s going on at Stanford University, and also computer science education trends. Among other things happening in the industry.

Mehran is simply one of the most interesting people I’ve interviewed. You’d have to be to get a job running probably the most important computer science University department in the world. Hope you enjoy.

[podtech content=http://media1.podtech.net/media/2007/08/PID_012404/Podtech_Stanford_CompSci_int.flv&postURL=http://www.podtech.net/scobleshow/technology/1614/the-guy-who-runs-stanfords-undergraduate-computer-science-department&totalTime=2738000&breadcrumb=6c880c806c7f460fa6c21b6369b4f9e1]

OK, some of you are asking for more text to judge whether the video is interesting, or not, so I took an hour out to do one for the interview of Mehran Sahami, head of Stanford University’s undergraduate computer science department.

00:00 introduction to Meharan Sahami
1:38 What’s the big thing he’s focused on? Joke about bubbles. Working on improving curriculum.
3:10 Why are numbers of computer science students going down?
5:30 Discussion of off shoring.
7:20 Discussion of social aspects of technology development.
9:00 Discussion of amazing things students are doing.
10:45 Discussion of the mythology of Stanford’s computer science department.
11:15 Discussion of the pressures that heading up such an important department brings.
12:58 What is Stanford not doing well?
14:50 How is the Internet changing education?
16:30 Joking about having Larry Lessig (law professor who started Creative Commons, among other things) at the school.
Which leads into a discussion of Stanford’s advantages and resources.
18:30: Discussion of the entrepreneur’s frustrations. Getting people to use new technologies.
22:20 What is the next big idea that’s cooking in your classrooms right now?
24:10 Did anyone working here understand how big Google would turn out to be? (Back when Google was being developed at Stanford).
25:00 What is it about big companies that keeps them from seeing the small idea (innovator’s dilemma discussion).
27:40 What would you like to tell the world about Stanford?
29:00 What’s the role of mobile in the world?
What kind of work is Stanford doing?
32:30 Is Stanford working with CERN?
34:09 If you were coming to Stanford this fall, what class would you take?
39:00 Talk about some of the famous names who are on the faculty here. Don Knuth for one.

Comments

  1. Robert,
    I am going to listen through it but 2 pieces of a priori feedback: 45 minutes seems long for something people would watch on a computer. Two ways to work around that: edit down to 10-15 minutes or create a simple textual table of content so that people can get a sense of the structure of the 45 min and jump directly into a section.
    (If the content ends up being insanely good, I might retract this but this was my first impression)
    -Edwin

  2. Robert,
    I am going to listen through it but 2 pieces of a priori feedback: 45 minutes seems long for something people would watch on a computer. Two ways to work around that: edit down to 10-15 minutes or create a simple textual table of content so that people can get a sense of the structure of the 45 min and jump directly into a section.
    (If the content ends up being insanely good, I might retract this but this was my first impression)
    -Edwin

  3. Robert,
    I am going to listen through it but 2 pieces of a priori feedback: 45 minutes seems long for something people would watch on a computer. Two ways to work around that: edit down to 10-15 minutes or create a simple textual table of content so that people can get a sense of the structure of the 45 min and jump directly into a section.
    (If the content ends up being insanely good, I might retract this but this was my first impression)
    -Edwin

  4. Gabe: you write compilers for a living. Don’t you have a way to convert an MPG to an MP3?

    I solved it by getting an iPhone and just keeping it in my pocket when I want to listen instead of watch.

  5. Gabe: you write compilers for a living. Don’t you have a way to convert an MPG to an MP3?

    I solved it by getting an iPhone and just keeping it in my pocket when I want to listen instead of watch.

  6. Gabe: you write compilers for a living. Don’t you have a way to convert an MPG to an MP3?

    I solved it by getting an iPhone and just keeping it in my pocket when I want to listen instead of watch.

  7. Edwin: thanks. I’ve had an extraordinary string of conversations on my videos in the past month. I wish more people would see them, but it’s very gratifying when even one person says they are good.

  8. Edwin: thanks. I’ve had an extraordinary string of conversations on my videos in the past month. I wish more people would see them, but it’s very gratifying when even one person says they are good.

  9. Edwin: thanks. I’ve had an extraordinary string of conversations on my videos in the past month. I wish more people would see them, but it’s very gratifying when even one person says they are good.

  10. @Gabe – Or QuickTime Pro can save out the audio track and you can convert from inside iTunes to MP3 (if those are the tools you have available).

    @ Mr. S – Thanks for the transcript. Helped me decide to watch earlier rather than putting it on the ‘watch later’ list.

    You know… you could nominate these things to Mechanical Turk and pay a buck or three and have someone transcribe for you.

  11. @Gabe – Or QuickTime Pro can save out the audio track and you can convert from inside iTunes to MP3 (if those are the tools you have available).

    @ Mr. S – Thanks for the transcript. Helped me decide to watch earlier rather than putting it on the ‘watch later’ list.

    You know… you could nominate these things to Mechanical Turk and pay a buck or three and have someone transcribe for you.

  12. @Gabe – Or QuickTime Pro can save out the audio track and you can convert from inside iTunes to MP3 (if those are the tools you have available).

    @ Mr. S – Thanks for the transcript. Helped me decide to watch earlier rather than putting it on the ‘watch later’ list.

    You know… you could nominate these things to Mechanical Turk and pay a buck or three and have someone transcribe for you.

  13. I really appreciate you putting into text where I could find the info I wanted. So instead of just listening to part I ended up listening to all because it was so interesting. Thanks.

  14. I really appreciate you putting into text where I could find the info I wanted. So instead of just listening to part I ended up listening to all because it was so interesting. Thanks.

  15. I really appreciate you putting into text where I could find the info I wanted. So instead of just listening to part I ended up listening to all because it was so interesting. Thanks.

  16. I’d settle for an imperfect transcript; just hold a TabletPC up to the speaker in dictate mode with notepad open and cut and paste what comes out.

  17. I’d settle for an imperfect transcript; just hold a TabletPC up to the speaker in dictate mode with notepad open and cut and paste what comes out.

  18. I’d settle for an imperfect transcript; just hold a TabletPC up to the speaker in dictate mode with notepad open and cut and paste what comes out.

  19. While this looks like very interesting content, 45 minutes seems way too long to consume on a computer. This seems to spilling into documentary time length. And it doesn’t appear you are being told your videos aren’t good (by the description of the content, they seem to be), they are often too long and it seems people would prefer text over video. How does the phrase go? The customer is always right?

  20. While this looks like very interesting content, 45 minutes seems way too long to consume on a computer. This seems to spilling into documentary time length. And it doesn’t appear you are being told your videos aren’t good (by the description of the content, they seem to be), they are often too long and it seems people would prefer text over video. How does the phrase go? The customer is always right?

  21. While this looks like very interesting content, 45 minutes seems way too long to consume on a computer. This seems to spilling into documentary time length. And it doesn’t appear you are being told your videos aren’t good (by the description of the content, they seem to be), they are often too long and it seems people would prefer text over video. How does the phrase go? The customer is always right?

  22. Like others here, I mentioned the idea of transcripts in one of your previous posts. That said, though, this timeline idea is a good one. Made this video go from “Oh, that sounds interesting, but I probably won’t make the time to watch it after work” to “Damn, that’s cool… I’m starring that one and setting a reminder.”

    Again, the transcript would be cool for instant gratification, but this is a good step.

  23. Like others here, I mentioned the idea of transcripts in one of your previous posts. That said, though, this timeline idea is a good one. Made this video go from “Oh, that sounds interesting, but I probably won’t make the time to watch it after work” to “Damn, that’s cool… I’m starring that one and setting a reminder.”

    Again, the transcript would be cool for instant gratification, but this is a good step.

  24. Like others here, I mentioned the idea of transcripts in one of your previous posts. That said, though, this timeline idea is a good one. Made this video go from “Oh, that sounds interesting, but I probably won’t make the time to watch it after work” to “Damn, that’s cool… I’m starring that one and setting a reminder.”

    Again, the transcript would be cool for instant gratification, but this is a good step.

  25. Brad: I regularly watch long videos on my computer or on my Apple TV or on my new iPhone.

    I am playing with short-form videos too, but find they don’t really increase viewership or engagement.

    It’s not hard to understand why, either. In 10 minutes all you can do is be very superficial.

    With a guy of this caliber you need closer to an hour to get anything interesting going.

    There’s a reason most conferences have hour-long sessions. Why most schools are hour-long. Why most TV shows are hour-long.

  26. Brad: I regularly watch long videos on my computer or on my Apple TV or on my new iPhone.

    I am playing with short-form videos too, but find they don’t really increase viewership or engagement.

    It’s not hard to understand why, either. In 10 minutes all you can do is be very superficial.

    With a guy of this caliber you need closer to an hour to get anything interesting going.

    There’s a reason most conferences have hour-long sessions. Why most schools are hour-long. Why most TV shows are hour-long.

  27. Brad: I regularly watch long videos on my computer or on my Apple TV or on my new iPhone.

    I am playing with short-form videos too, but find they don’t really increase viewership or engagement.

    It’s not hard to understand why, either. In 10 minutes all you can do is be very superficial.

    With a guy of this caliber you need closer to an hour to get anything interesting going.

    There’s a reason most conferences have hour-long sessions. Why most schools are hour-long. Why most TV shows are hour-long.

  28. Robert, I was pointing out a way Podtech could make it easier for more people to play your interview. The tech tip conveyed of your response was fine, but I also noticed a suggestion that I’m lazy/inept. Hmm…in any case, I reaffirm mp3s would be helpful.

  29. Robert, I was pointing out a way Podtech could make it easier for more people to play your interview. The tech tip conveyed of your response was fine, but I also noticed a suggestion that I’m lazy/inept. Hmm…in any case, I reaffirm mp3s would be helpful.

  30. Robert, I was pointing out a way Podtech could make it easier for more people to play your interview. The tech tip conveyed of your response was fine, but I also noticed a suggestion that I’m lazy/inept. Hmm…in any case, I reaffirm mp3s would be helpful.

  31. @14. You may have a point. However I think the experience of sitting in a classroom, attending a conference session, or even watching TV is far different than watching unpolished videos on a computer screen. So I don’t think the comparisons are quite the same. Of course we have the counter argument that 60 Minutes chops their show up into 15-20 minute interview segments. And hour long talk shows usually have a series of guests.

    You surely understand your audience better than I, but judging by the recent feedback, it seems at least some prefer shorter videos, and/or text.

  32. @14. You may have a point. However I think the experience of sitting in a classroom, attending a conference session, or even watching TV is far different than watching unpolished videos on a computer screen. So I don’t think the comparisons are quite the same. Of course we have the counter argument that 60 Minutes chops their show up into 15-20 minute interview segments. And hour long talk shows usually have a series of guests.

    You surely understand your audience better than I, but judging by the recent feedback, it seems at least some prefer shorter videos, and/or text.

  33. @14. You may have a point. However I think the experience of sitting in a classroom, attending a conference session, or even watching TV is far different than watching unpolished videos on a computer screen. So I don’t think the comparisons are quite the same. Of course we have the counter argument that 60 Minutes chops their show up into 15-20 minute interview segments. And hour long talk shows usually have a series of guests.

    You surely understand your audience better than I, but judging by the recent feedback, it seems at least some prefer shorter videos, and/or text.

  34. “You might think I’m stupid. Dumb. Lame. Irrelevant. Arrogant. Or worse.”

    You must get a lot of complaint mail. I think your insight is great. Must be hard ignoring so many negative people.

  35. “You might think I’m stupid. Dumb. Lame. Irrelevant. Arrogant. Or worse.”

    You must get a lot of complaint mail. I think your insight is great. Must be hard ignoring so many negative people.

  36. “You might think I’m stupid. Dumb. Lame. Irrelevant. Arrogant. Or worse.”

    You must get a lot of complaint mail. I think your insight is great. Must be hard ignoring so many negative people.

  37. Hi Robert,

    Thanks a lot for bringing Dr. Sahami’s interview to us. I studied one CS course under him a few years back, and it was fun to be taught by him. He is a good teacher, and he seems right in deciding to come back to academia…

    Regards,
    Reema.

  38. Hi Robert,

    Thanks a lot for bringing Dr. Sahami’s interview to us. I studied one CS course under him a few years back, and it was fun to be taught by him. He is a good teacher, and he seems right in deciding to come back to academia…

    Regards,
    Reema.

  39. Hi Robert,

    Thanks a lot for bringing Dr. Sahami’s interview to us. I studied one CS course under him a few years back, and it was fun to be taught by him. He is a good teacher, and he seems right in deciding to come back to academia…

    Regards,
    Reema.