Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Best Things about 2010

Last year I posted the Best Things About 2009, so I feel compelled to do the same this year. In what is sure to become an annual tradition, I present to you the Best Things About 2010 -- Volatile and Decentralized edition.

Best portrayed cameo appearance in a major Hollywood motion picture:

Brian Palermo's dramatic and riveting 45-second performance as myself in The Social Network. The rest of the movie is just okay, but the scene where I am teaching virtual memory to Mark Zuckerberg is one of the most compelling moments in modern cinema, right up there with Daniel Day-Lewis in the final scene of There Will Be Blood.

Best phone call:

It was early June and I was sitting by the pool in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands, drinking a rum punch, when my cell phone rang. "Hi Matt, it's Greg." Morrisett, that is, at the time the CS department chair at Harvard. "Oh, hi Greg," I said, nonchalantly, as though I was used to getting phone calls from him while being thousands of miles away. "I have good news," he said, and told me that my tenure case had just been approved by the President. I believe my exact response was, "no shit!" (in the surprised and delighted sense, not the sarcastic sense). In that moment I felt that seven years of hard work had finally paid off.

Best album:

$O$ by Die Antwoord. Every now and then an album comes along that I get utterly addicted to, and listen on repeat for days on end until I'm sick of it... and then I listen some more. Die Antwoord's unbelievable mashup of white-boy rap, totally sappy techno, and over-the-top lyrics in English, Afrikaans, and Xhosa is one such album. This is not at all the kind of music I usually listen to, but something about the trashy hooks and ridiculous vocals is just too catchy. The best song is "Evil Boy," which has a brilliant video (warning: definitely NSFW). Also check out the faux documentary video "Zef Side." Runners up: Transference by Spoon; Root for Ruin by Les Savy Fav.

Best reason to memorize Goodnight Moon and "Elmo's Song:"

Being daddy to an eighteen-month-old. Fatherhood continues to wear well on me. As my little boy, Sidney, gets older, he only manages to be more amazing and more entertaining. These days he's running, talking, singing, parroting back pretty much anything he hears (gotta watch what I say around him), coloring with crayons, counting, naming everything in sight. It's also exhausting taking care of him at times, but totally worth it in every way.


  1. I'm trying to turn this into an 'academia vs industry' discussion, but it's not working out :(

    I have a question about the 2009 post:

    Sidney is now almost six months old and is the cutest little fella I've ever seen -- I just can't wait to be able to take him to the zoo and teach him C++.

    What is it about the zoo that makes it conducive to learning C++? Is it that by looking at monkeys, the baby is assured of us humans' superiority, gains confidence and thus programs better? Or by looking at dolphins, which although have been acknowledged to be fairly intelligent, the lack of fingers makes them unlikely to use a keyboard and hence the baby feels safe that his code will never be hacked by dolphins?

    If so, I'll say that we should expose all our young to the toughest opponents as early as possible! We must seek the best botnet hacker, and sit the baby beside him/her. Then watch and do nothing as the hacker laughs at our young's feeble attempts to write perfect code! Yeah!


  2. ah.. I see the headless turkey is at it again ... somebody shoot it dead already!

  3. wow. Die Antwoord must be an acquired taste...

  4. I enjoyed reading your Blog. I understand you are working at Google. There appears to be a terrible problem with Spam at sci.med.dental-google groups. I don't know if google can do anything about this.

  5. @Anonymous-Jan10: are you seriously asking Matt to do something about spam in a usenet group about dentistry? This is the funniest thing I've read in awhile!

  6. Good night Moon, Corduroy, and Elmo: classic stuff. Enjoy!


Startup Life: Three Months In

I've posted a story to Medium on what it's been like to work at a startup, after years at Google. Check it out here.