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Computer Review Editor Resigns

Tsai Blasts Student Group; Charges Denied

By Douglas M. Pravda

The College's largest student run computer group was shaken Thursday by the public resignation of the editor of its magazine the Harvard Computer Review.

The editor, Kevin S. Tsai '96 cited internal conflicts in the Harvard Computer Society and a society debt the estimated at $14,000 in a resignation letter posted on three newsgroups on the Harvard computer network.

His post prompted a series of subsequent posts by readers of the widely read 'Harvard .general" newsgroup. the posts included an exchange of insults between Tsai and members of HCS, called a "flame war" by frequent network users.

Tsai resigned just three months after his November appointment as editor in chief and did not publish any issues of the Review during his tenure.

Tsai submitted his resignation to the HCS about a week and a half ago after the new executive board took over, according to HCS president Eugene E. Kim '96 But the departing editor held off on the public announcement until Thursday.

Tsai said he resigned because "the [review] has not been able to print any issues whatsoever as a result of the computer society's financial problems."

In his post to the newsgroups, Tsai said theComputer Society debt is approximately $14,000.HCS Business Manager Rolland Ho '97 admitted thedebt at one time totalled $15,000 but said it isnow down to $11,000.

Kim said HCS is in the process of looking foranother editor, but declined to say whom theorganization is considering.

Tsai said "personal conflicts" were also afactor in his decision.

"Because of the HCS's financial problems andperhaps conflicts in the HCS, I don't think I cando a very good job, and so I resigned in protest,"Tsai said. "I hope that was the message the boardwill take to make sure that there will be no morepersonal conflicts."

Tsai's post cited "personal pride and vainness"in HCS members and said that "people who hadsimilar interests and common goals no longer couldwork together."

He also warned in the post that "once again theHarvard Computer Society...silently runs thedanger of collapsing into ashes."

Kim posted a reply message on "harvard.general"saying that he was "saddened" by Tsai'sresignation, and that he wanted to clarify what hesaid were "some potentially misleadingallegations" in Tsai's resignation.

"I was unhappy that Kevin decided to post theseallegations publicly as opposed to coming to ouropen board meetings to discuss it," Kim said in aninterview yesterday. "If he truly felt it was sucha large problem, he certainly did nothing toresolve it by posting a public message where hemade any allegations without any evidence."

After Kim's post, the subsequent message on"harvard.general" rapidly developed into a "flamewar."

In one post, HCS member David A. Holland '94called Tsai's allegations "raving and ranting."

Kim charged in a post that Tsai had implied andthe HCL president was "pig-headed andself-centered." Kim said that he based thisstatement not just on Tsai's resignation letter,but on other posts which directly attacked him.

Kim said in an interview yesterday that messageposted in newsgroups "have to be taken with agrain of salt, because people tend to be a lotfreer in what they say and it's a lot easier tomake unqualified accusations."

Both he and Holland denied the existence of theconflicts Tsai wrote of in his resignation post.

"It's easy to misunderstand what people aresaying in terms of his allegations about theinternal conflicts," Kim said, "I'm sorry he feltthat way, but I didn't see those internalconflicts."

Later in the interview, Kim acknowledged theexistence of conflicts but said they did notaffect the computer society's workings.

"We did not let these conflicts--and I'll befrank, they did exist and who they existed betweenwas irrelevant--affect the HCS," Kim said.

"Everyone on the board and other active membersmay not have liked each other that much, but thatdid not at all affect how we dealt with the HCS'sKim said. "I think that's a testament of maturityto the 1993 board that everyone was able tosuppress their differences with the other membersin order to see the HCS progress."

But while the HCS president defended therelations between members of his organization, healso acknowledged that the recent split of twoformer HCS executives to form a new publicationhas drawn considerable publicity.

"A lot of focus has been on Jeff [Tarr] andIshir [Bhan]--they've been getting a lot ofpublicity lately," Kim said.

Tarr, a former HCS president, and Bhan, aformer editor-in-chief of the review, recentlyfounded Digitas, a new student group intended toexplore and advocate emerging technologies. Thetwo did not resign their HCS memberships, however.

Tsai refused to discuss the formation of thenew group in light of his allegations of conflictwithin the HCS. "I also think it will be betterthe HCS. "I also think it will be better for both[HCS and Digitas] if I don't say anything either[about the personality conflicts]," he saidyesterday.

Tsai said the fall issue of the review wasclose to completion when financial difficultiesprevented its publication. Review staffers hadalready finished "editing and laying out all thearticles for the fall issue of [the review]," hesaid.

Ho, the business manager, said the completedfall issue was never published because thepublisher refused to print any more issues untilHCS had reduced its debt with the company to an"acceptable" sum.

The HCS inherited a $5,000 debt with itspublishers from last year because of the cost ofputting out the review and Computers atHarvard, an annual publication distributed tothe entire student body, Ho said.

The 1993 Computers at Harvardpublication cost an additional $10,000,increasing the HCS debt to $15,000, he said.

Ho said that the ad sales for the fall issueshould have netted the HCS $16,000, enough to turna small profit.

A previous business staffer failed to collecton ads he sold for the issue, Ho said.

"The person who sold those ads never collectedthe revenue from the advertisers and the problemsstagnated until I took over as business manager,"he said.

Ho said he is trying to collect the balancesfrom the ads previously sold.

"In the past four weeks, I have been in contactwith all of our advertisers and I have beenpushing them to remit the balances on theirinvoices and we have begun to see checks come infrom those advertisers," he said.

As of yesterday morning, the HCS' debt totaled$11,000, Ho said, but he expects to have thenumber down to approximately $3,000 within 60days.

Ho will also begin the advertising campaign forthe 1994 Computers at Harvard issue withinthe next two weeks.

"I am expecting to raise enough revenue withour next issue to completely eliminate our debtwith our publishers and bring the Harvard ComputerSociety back into the black," he said.

But the future of the fall issue is still inquestion despite improving finances because muchof it was lost through a computer disk error.

Bhan, who was still editor-in-chief whenpreparations for the issue began, said that a lotof the issue was lost.

"After I found out that the HCS would not beable to publish it anytime soon, I copied theissue to floppy disk but one of the disks failedand I was unable to restore the entire issue," hesaid.

Kim acknowledged that part of the issue waslost, but he said that even though some of thearticles were outdated, they were going to try tosalvage as much as possible for fortunepublications

In his post to the newsgroups, Tsai said theComputer Society debt is approximately $14,000.HCS Business Manager Rolland Ho '97 admitted thedebt at one time totalled $15,000 but said it isnow down to $11,000.

Kim said HCS is in the process of looking foranother editor, but declined to say whom theorganization is considering.

Tsai said "personal conflicts" were also afactor in his decision.

"Because of the HCS's financial problems andperhaps conflicts in the HCS, I don't think I cando a very good job, and so I resigned in protest,"Tsai said. "I hope that was the message the boardwill take to make sure that there will be no morepersonal conflicts."

Tsai's post cited "personal pride and vainness"in HCS members and said that "people who hadsimilar interests and common goals no longer couldwork together."

He also warned in the post that "once again theHarvard Computer Society...silently runs thedanger of collapsing into ashes."

Kim posted a reply message on "harvard.general"saying that he was "saddened" by Tsai'sresignation, and that he wanted to clarify what hesaid were "some potentially misleadingallegations" in Tsai's resignation.

"I was unhappy that Kevin decided to post theseallegations publicly as opposed to coming to ouropen board meetings to discuss it," Kim said in aninterview yesterday. "If he truly felt it was sucha large problem, he certainly did nothing toresolve it by posting a public message where hemade any allegations without any evidence."

After Kim's post, the subsequent message on"harvard.general" rapidly developed into a "flamewar."

In one post, HCS member David A. Holland '94called Tsai's allegations "raving and ranting."

Kim charged in a post that Tsai had implied andthe HCL president was "pig-headed andself-centered." Kim said that he based thisstatement not just on Tsai's resignation letter,but on other posts which directly attacked him.

Kim said in an interview yesterday that messageposted in newsgroups "have to be taken with agrain of salt, because people tend to be a lotfreer in what they say and it's a lot easier tomake unqualified accusations."

Both he and Holland denied the existence of theconflicts Tsai wrote of in his resignation post.

"It's easy to misunderstand what people aresaying in terms of his allegations about theinternal conflicts," Kim said, "I'm sorry he feltthat way, but I didn't see those internalconflicts."

Later in the interview, Kim acknowledged theexistence of conflicts but said they did notaffect the computer society's workings.

"We did not let these conflicts--and I'll befrank, they did exist and who they existed betweenwas irrelevant--affect the HCS," Kim said.

"Everyone on the board and other active membersmay not have liked each other that much, but thatdid not at all affect how we dealt with the HCS'sKim said. "I think that's a testament of maturityto the 1993 board that everyone was able tosuppress their differences with the other membersin order to see the HCS progress."

But while the HCS president defended therelations between members of his organization, healso acknowledged that the recent split of twoformer HCS executives to form a new publicationhas drawn considerable publicity.

"A lot of focus has been on Jeff [Tarr] andIshir [Bhan]--they've been getting a lot ofpublicity lately," Kim said.

Tarr, a former HCS president, and Bhan, aformer editor-in-chief of the review, recentlyfounded Digitas, a new student group intended toexplore and advocate emerging technologies. Thetwo did not resign their HCS memberships, however.

Tsai refused to discuss the formation of thenew group in light of his allegations of conflictwithin the HCS. "I also think it will be betterthe HCS. "I also think it will be better for both[HCS and Digitas] if I don't say anything either[about the personality conflicts]," he saidyesterday.

Tsai said the fall issue of the review wasclose to completion when financial difficultiesprevented its publication. Review staffers hadalready finished "editing and laying out all thearticles for the fall issue of [the review]," hesaid.

Ho, the business manager, said the completedfall issue was never published because thepublisher refused to print any more issues untilHCS had reduced its debt with the company to an"acceptable" sum.

The HCS inherited a $5,000 debt with itspublishers from last year because of the cost ofputting out the review and Computers atHarvard, an annual publication distributed tothe entire student body, Ho said.

The 1993 Computers at Harvardpublication cost an additional $10,000,increasing the HCS debt to $15,000, he said.

Ho said that the ad sales for the fall issueshould have netted the HCS $16,000, enough to turna small profit.

A previous business staffer failed to collecton ads he sold for the issue, Ho said.

"The person who sold those ads never collectedthe revenue from the advertisers and the problemsstagnated until I took over as business manager,"he said.

Ho said he is trying to collect the balancesfrom the ads previously sold.

"In the past four weeks, I have been in contactwith all of our advertisers and I have beenpushing them to remit the balances on theirinvoices and we have begun to see checks come infrom those advertisers," he said.

As of yesterday morning, the HCS' debt totaled$11,000, Ho said, but he expects to have thenumber down to approximately $3,000 within 60days.

Ho will also begin the advertising campaign forthe 1994 Computers at Harvard issue withinthe next two weeks.

"I am expecting to raise enough revenue withour next issue to completely eliminate our debtwith our publishers and bring the Harvard ComputerSociety back into the black," he said.

But the future of the fall issue is still inquestion despite improving finances because muchof it was lost through a computer disk error.

Bhan, who was still editor-in-chief whenpreparations for the issue began, said that a lotof the issue was lost.

"After I found out that the HCS would not beable to publish it anytime soon, I copied theissue to floppy disk but one of the disks failedand I was unable to restore the entire issue," hesaid.

Kim acknowledged that part of the issue waslost, but he said that even though some of thearticles were outdated, they were going to try tosalvage as much as possible for fortunepublications

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