A Cluster that Possibly Didn’t Last 963 Years

Recently, MIT’s IS&T (Information Systems & Technology) announced the impending shutdown of the Athena computer cluster at 38-370.

This news saddened me for several reasons. For one thing, I am part of a small collection of people that hold the 38-370 cluster really dear, as a nice secluded cozy place off the beaten path where one could still get nice Athena computers. (Very likely, though, the tiny number of people who used this cluster contributed to the decision to shut it down.) I have personally told IS&T that I appreciate the 38-370 cluster and that I hoped for it to stay preserved when I saw other clusters dying en masse, but this feedback possibly got lost somewhere in the bowels of the recent reorganization.

But for another thing, I have to stop a little project short.

Ever since I got acquainted with this cluster, I’ve noticed that it has a bulletin board full of posters that seem to never get taken down, for instance this poster advertising an HSSP from before my time:

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. (This poster’s still there; I took this picture (and subsequent pictures) today.) One can only guess how ancient the other advertisements posted to this board are.

Thus, 599 days ago, I decided to try an experiment to see how long something clearly ridiculous that I post up to that bulletin board will live there before anyone bothers to take it down, or even how long it takes someone to notice it and care enough to try e-mailing the e-mail address on the ad.

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I registered crab-nebula-observe@mit.edu, told no one else about this poster, and waited, confident that eventually someone out of the people who see this poster will care to e-mail the address on it, at least asking if this society is still alive after 962 years.

No e-mails ever came. I won’t necessarily be able to know if anyone actually noticed this poster, but no one ever e-mailed that address anything. (And more saliently, no one has ever bothered to take this poster down.)

But soon, the entire cluster will be shut down. And with it, probably goes this bulletin board. And thus, this 962-year 1.5-year experiment will need to end.

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