Boy and Girl, back at school:

B: Are you tired?
G: What?
B: Are you tired?
G: Considering I’ve only had half an hour of sleep, no.
B: Good.

I decide to sit in on a class of Professor Lessig’s at the Law School. The first thing you notice is that there’s nowhere to hide in a law school classroom — the room is relatively small and the seats are staggered so that the professor can easily see every single chair. I’m scared at just the thought of raising my hand to ask a question. The second thing you notice is that all the kids have laptops, even if they can’t hide behind them. The third thing you notice is that all the kids are here really early and have taken all the good seats. They talk animatedly with each other and congregate in the halls. They show a general friendliness, perhaps borne of the shared adversity of law school, that is quite unlike anything I’ve seen on the rest of campus, where kids either travel alone or in pairs, and cautiously even then.

Three minutes before class is scheduled to begin, the professor appears. But it’s not Professor Lessig — it’s the hilarious Jonathan Zittrain from Harvard, apparently filling in for Lessig. The hum of conversation continues to build. Zittrain chats quietly with a female student. I think I stole someone’s seat, since the seating patterns seem to have been disturbed. Eventually, he says simply “So, hi there!” and the room goes silent. Looking for people to call on, Zittrain picks me out and almost chooses me, before thinking better of it and just suggesting that I’m “Larry’s mole”. What is it with this school? Every time I’m here I get cold-called.

Zittrain gives a fast-paced detailed lecture, with lots of funny anecdotes and even a short commercial for Shards O’ Glass popsicles. But either Zittrain’s hilarity fails to impress or these law students are really dumb, because the class refuses to volunteer answers to questions that even I know the answers to. And I haven’t torts (the course) or product reliability (today’s class) at all.

Students type incessantly throughout the class, collectively making the room sound like rain. They all have their laptops open to a Microsoft Word outline which they use to take notes. About a third go off and surf the Web. Their camaraderie continues throughout the class, where they talk amongst themselves in response to a question. Soon enough the class comes to the end and Zittrain gets numerous “thank you”s and compliments on his teaching style.

I stay after and talk with Zittrain, who wonders why I missed his talk earlier today. I tell him I wrote it down in my notebook but forgot to put it in my calendar. He does not think this is a very good excuse. He invites me to a dinner with other former Harvard Law School people who now live in the area, saying I’m an honorary member. How can I say no? I head off with him, blowing off the on-campus Howard Dean speech I had tickets for.

At dinner Zittrain explains how Lessig left careful plans for him. A car was parked at the airport with keys hidden. Inside were directions and keys to Lessig’s house. At the house, Zittrain took care of Lessig’s new baby boy, Willem. Willem, apparently, kept giving Zittrain German children’s books to read. Zittrain does not speak German but he didn’t want to disappoint, so he made it up. Now he worries Willem will grow up speaking faux German.

Google lawyer Andrew Macgillivray drives me back to Stanford, where I head over to the library to watch Noam Chomsky videos long into the night with some other people in my Chomsky class.

posted February 02, 2005 09:23 PM (Education) (0 comments) #


Stanford: Day 67
Home: Day 1
Home: Day 2
Home: Day 3
Keeping Up with the Rosses
Stanford: Monday, November 29
Stanford: Tuesday, November 30
Stanford: Wednesday, December 1
Stanford: Thursday, December 2
Stanford: Friday, December 3
Stanford: Saturday, December 4


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