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Facebook for the social-media-impaired …

Today is UW CSE Ph.D. alum Geoff Voelker‘s birthday.  His UCSD CSE colleague (and fellow UW CSE Ph.D. alum) Stefan Savage writes:

Dear all,

Untold years ago today, our own Geoff Voelker was born.  Unfortunately, those of us who seek to communicate birthday wishes in the contemporary vernacular – a wry combination of “Happy Birthday” posts on the recipient’s Facebook “wall” and the “liking” of other such posts – are unable to do so in this case.  You see, Geoff is a practicing neo-luddite.  In particular, he shamelessly refuses to use any technology popularized after 1996.  Thus, he does not text, he does not tweet, he does not blog, pin, digg or tumbl.  He carries no portable electronics, his only phone plugs into the wall, he watches television via a broadcast cable and buys pre-recorded audio physically encoded on quaint pressed discs of aluminum and poly-carbonate. Webmail?  No way, this guy still reads direct from /var/spool/mail/  And… germane to this particular conversation… Geoff Voelker has no Facebook page and hence no wall.   

How then to wish Geoff “Happy Birthday”?  My first thought was to just create a Facebook account in Geoff’s name, thereby simplifying life for all of us.  Unfortunately, Geoff knows me too well and long ago extracted a solemn promise from me that I would not create, cause to be created or “allow to be created through inaction,” any account or page on the Facebook online social network.  Sealed in blood under a full moon, this is one of the few oaths that I’ve felt obligated to keep.   I needed another way.

Working tirelessly with a crack team of specialists, entrepreneurs, astrologers, lawyers, academics, and wild-eyed dreamers, we eventually found the loophole we needed.  Using arcane quantum mechanisms we arranged to shift the raw potentiality of Geoff’s Facebook page from the virtual online world, into an _actual_ Facebook page located in our physical plane of existence.  Through this solipsistic sleight of hand, Geoff now has a Facebook wall, appropriately located… on his wall.

Particular thanks go to alumnus Chris Kanich in our Great Lakes office for creating the page to exacting specifications, Neha Chachra for printing it, Dave Wargo for mounting it under glass and Kirill “the most interesting computer scientist in the world” Levchenko for his inestimable management skills.  

With that, I’d like to invite all of you who know and care for Geoff, to write your birthday wishes on his new Facebook wall in its physical location outside room 3108.

September 12, 2012