NY Times columnist visits U

David Pogue met with an introductory CSE class before giving a lecture on “disruptive tech” before a crowd of 1,000.

Rebecca Harrington

 David Pogue, tech reviewer for The New York Times, visited the University of Minnesota Wednesday to give a lecture to a crowd of more than 1,000 people on “disruptive” technology.

Before the night’s lecture, Pogue visited an honors section of an introductory College of Science and Engineering class.

Seventeen CSE freshman — 15 men and two women — waited anxiously, talking amongst themselves, for Pogue to arrive.

“So you’re freshman, but you’re honors,” he said as he walked in the room 14 minutes late. “So you’re supposed to be smart?”

Kate Jensen, the instructor, read his bio, which included his various roles: hosting NOVA ScienceNow, writing tech how-to books, writing for Scientific American and reporting for CBS Sunday Morning.

Once he took the floor, Pogue bounced from doing magic tricks, to gushing about cameras, to explaining the science behind shark skin. He started each new topic with some excited version of, “This is a good story…”

The students were engaged and laughed at his “manic” mood, as he described it. Pogue even stumped them with a few science questions as he explained what he learned while filming NOVA.

CSE and the University’s Friends of the Libraries hosted the visit. The class started as a pilot program two years ago, and explores research and scientific applications.

They chose the honors “First Year Experience” class because it was the only section offered at a time when Pogue could attend, according to CSE communications director Rhonda Zurn.

The students said they were excited to be the only section to see Pogue. Cole Remmen, an astrophysics and theater freshman, said he knew of Pogue from watching NOVA.

Zoe Bohnen, physics freshman, said she loved how Pogue could put technology into layman’s terms and she wasn’t intimidated to ask him questions.

“I like asking questions to people who are knowledgeable,” she said.

Pogue told the students how he started in his different roles, but he also shared what frustrated him about science and technology.

He has a beef with phone companies and the anonymity of the internet. But he also can’t wait to see himself on TV and admits he has “thin skin” that still gets hurt by critics.

The lecture Wednesday night covered a lot of the same topics: Pogue’s life, what he’s obsessed with and what he’s learned.

The students — in both the class and the lecture — asked how he manages his time with so many things to do. Pogue said he uses every spare moment to get it all done.

Each time, he added the same thing.

“But there’s a limit,” Pogue said, “and I think I’m at it.”