The Larriad

Composed by Geoffrey Nunberg on the occasion of Larry Masinter's 25th Anniverary at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, January 1998.

The day is coming, some opine,
When we'll live all our lives on line.
We'll toil and frolic placelessly,
And go to meetings facelessly,
As with coworkers we commune,
Still wearing our PJ's at noon,
And on the weekends we'll relax
With cyberchums over cybersnacks.

In libraries the shelves and nooks
Will fill with dust from crumbling books,
And building 35's bright gloss,
Will be all overgrown with moss.
I'll never have to schlep again,
Along 280 in the rain,
Nor dread, when Tuesday comes along,
The summons of the Whistle gong.

Still, there are things that I'll regret
When life's transacted on the Net,
For caught up in that virtual mesh,
I 'll not see Larry in the flesh.
I'll never hear, along the hall,
The pit-pat where his footsteps fall,
Nor hear his voice's distant pealing,
That loosens fixtures in the ceiling.
When job talks are remotely run,
Could I forsake the lively fun
Of seeing speakers blanch with terror,
As gently he points out an error?

No, no -- think twice, and let this be
Your lesson in ontology:
What's real is real, and we can't fake it --
A virtual Larry doesn't make it.
Technology may be ready now;
Alas, I'm not -- so can we vow
To leave it sitting in the drawer
For just a quarter century more?