Standing on one foot

As I mentioned the other day, I am at a Microsoft sponsored conference that is being held on a cruise ship. There is something unique about being surrounded by computer scientists in an enclosed space for five days. For some reason it reminds me of one of my most vivid memories from the SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference.

It was a number of years ago, and I was having a really interesting discussion with one of my colleagues about how difficult it is to get a good research paper published in the SIGGRAPH conference. One of the problems is that because space is so tight, they rarely accept papers that are longer than eight pages (which is much less space than you get in the usual scientific journal article).

We were both bemoaning how tough it was to compress all of our brilliant ideas down to such a small number of pages, when I told my colleague something that Chekov had once said: “One should write as if standing on one foot, and then edit as if sitting in a comfortable chair.” He just looked at me for a long moment, and then he said “I never really watched Star Trek.”

That was the point in the conversation where I decided to change the subject…

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