May 19, 2019

RIP Bill Zeller

All of us here at CITP were saddened by the death of Bill Zeller, our respected and much-loved colleague. Bill was a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science here at Princeton, who died last night due to injuries sustained in a suicide attempt.

There has been a huge outpouring of sympathy for Bill, both at Princeton and across the Internet, which is entirely appropriate. But I’d like to focus here on the positive side of Bill’s life.

Bill has made at least two appearances here on Freedom to Tinker, first as the instigator of the Miraculin experiment (Miracle Fruit: Tinkering with our Taste Buds), then later for his research on web security (Popular Websites Vulnerable to Cross-Site Request Forgery Attacks).

Bill always had a new project brewing. His projects ranged from the quirky (the cult favorite Cats in Christmas Trees site) to an early blogging tool (Zempt, which was incorporated into Movable Type) to many useful software development tools (such as jLambda). Tens of millions of people have read or used something that Bill created.

Bill’s sense of humor was much appreciated by his friends. He would sometimes go to considerable lengths for the sake of a joke. Once, for the sake of an office joke, he created a technology package including an online game, an RSS-based miniblogging tool, and a screen saver. Then, later, he shut it all down, as a birthday present for the friend who was the target of his (good-natured) joke.

We have many, many fond memories of Bill, more than we could possibly fit here.

Those of you who knew Bill are invited to add your own fond memories in the comments.

CITP Seeks Visitors for 2011-2012

The Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP) seeks candidates for positions as visiting faculty members or researchers, or postdoctoral research associates for one year appointments for the 2011-2012 academic year. Please see our website for additional information and requirements at http://citp.princeton.edu/call-for-visitors/.

If you are interested, please submit a CV and cover letter, stating background, intended research, and salary requirements, to jobs.princeton.edu/applicants/Central?quickFind=60250.

Princeton University is an equal opportunity employer and complies with applicable EEO and affirmative action regulations.

Dr. Felten Goes to Washington

Today the Federal Trade Commission announced that I will become their Chief Technologist, effective January 1. My main role at the FTC will be to provide advice on technology policy issues. (Princeton has an announcement too.)

What does this mean for Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy? During my time at the FTC, I’ll be on leave from Princeton, and my colleague Prof. Margaret Martonosi will be Acting Director of CITP. Margaret will bring fresh ideas to CITP, and I know that she is committed to maintaining CITP’s active programs of public events, visiting fellows, and student engagement. CITP’s wonderful staff will help to maintain continuity and keep things running smoothly.

CITP is all about clarifying complex technology policy issues and helping policymakers better understand the choices they are making. I’m looking forward to putting this into practice in government–and then coming back to Princeton with a deeper knowledge of how policy is really made.