Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Professors Farewell Sparks a Media Frenzy - New York Times Blog

A Professor's Farewell Sparks a Media Frenzy

In September Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, gave his last lecture, telling the audience that he would soon die of pancreatic cancer. But those may not be his last public words after all.

After delivering the talk, Dr. Pausch had planned to enjoy his last days with his family. Instead, Wall Street Journal reporter Jeff Zaslow wrote a column about the unusual lecture, which he described as a "riveting and rollicking journey through the lessons" of Dr. Pausch's life, and the professor became a media sensation.

Dr. Pausch had spoken of his belief that people ultimately will impress you if you wait long enough and his view that kids should be allowed to draw on their bedroom walls. A video of the talk quickly spread over the Internet: the lecture was translated into German, even Mandarin. Dr. Pausch was asked to appear on "Oprah" and "Good Morning America." (I also wrote about Dr. Pausch on this blog.)

Apparently publishers are convinced the public wants to hear more. Today, the New York Post reports that in a frenzy for rights to a book based on Dr. Pausch's lecture, co-authored by Mr. Zaslow, bidding has reached nearly $7 million. The proposed book reportedly will tell the stories behind the wisdom Dr. Pausch dispensed that day.

To understand the fuss over one professor's final lecture, check out the talk for yourself. Here's the original Wall Street Journal article, which includes a video excerpt, as well as a follow-up story written by Mr. Zaslow. If you have time, watch Dr. Pausch's inspiring hour-long lecture in its entirety. You can download the video or find a full transcript on his home page.


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