I’ve seen David Larochelle blow out the candles on his birthday cake. I´ve seen how he hanged bright lights inside his apartment for Christmas, and I guess he was proud of his work. I know his mother is a retired teacher and an artist, and that she would like Action for Gun Sense in America. I know that David has a brother, Jeremy, whose only public photo in Facebook is one of David and his girlfriend, smiling. David father´s name is Rich. His parents live in Falls Church, Virginia. I know all of that and I´ve speak to David only once in my life, by phone.
David lives in Boston. He joined the Berkman Center in the fall of 2008 as Lead Engineer for Media Cloud. “These may be great times for being an Engineer”, I told him. He thinks: “Mmm….” (David usually starts his answers with a mmm) “. I´ve heard that before. And I´ve been told that we are more respected now than we used to be. And I think a lot of problems could be solved through machines, but will people trust in this approach to make a difference? I don´t know”.
Prior to joining Berkman, he was an engineer at Ounce Labs. He completed a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Computer Science, a Master’s in Computer Science at the University of Virginia, and all but the proposal and dissertation for a Ph.D. in Computer Science.
I´ve seen David in costumes. I´ve seen him dressed up as a Dalmatian sheep dog, and in Steampunk clothes, a fascinating sub genre of science fiction about steam-powered machines. I´ve seem David wearing in a kilt; elegantly dressed for a Dickensian Nineteenth Century Ballroom; in Civil War period dress, for the Returning Heroes Ball and wearing a tailcoat for the Titanic Dance Weekend. I think he loves waltz and I would bet he´s a great dancer.
As he posted once, David, as others working in the information technology industry has affection for “the socially inept nerd stereotype. Some have said that we value brilliance or apparent brilliance above all…” Does David fit in to that stereotype? “Mmmm, interesting question…I spend a decent amount of time online, and today, so many people are addicted to browsers that I don´t know if that makes me unique…Things have changed a little bit. Technology is more mobile now, so you can´t be into it without needing to be reclused in one place”.
David doesn´t seem like a reclusive person. Actually, I think he enjoys being with people, friends, family. And he likes to take part in collective-coordinated- challenges. He also likes to defy himself and he believes in the effectiveness of external deadlines, although he would like to find a way to create self imposed ones He was part of the Iron Blogger project (which fined you with $5 as a fine if you don´t blog), he applied self monetary incentives to improve his sleep schedule (donating $1 to charity each time he stay up after midnight), and he participated in a smoothie cleanse and a 10 day green smoothie challenge, during which time he had to drink at least one green smoothie a day and post a picture on Facebook as proof).
Smoothies are serious staff for David. He cares about eating healthy. During a mostly disappointing five hours flea market standing, and after dealing with some clients that he described as “obnoxious”, David still took the long way to pass the chips and grilled food only vendor and get some “reasonably healthy food to make it through the day”.
“Smoothies are pretty convenient, they are nutritional, I think there are lot of healthy benefits on them…I´ve been quiet doing a smoothie everyday, I try to put a lot of greens, to minimize the fruit. I like the taste of smoothies”. David Larochelle is also a vegetarian. But that´s not enough for him: “Lately, I´ve been trying to do things to improve my life, to do more exercise, I believe in spending time in being healthy”.
The morning we talked for this interview, David woke up at 6 am to exercise. He was ready at 7:30 am. “I find that if I don´t exercise in the morning it doesn´t happen. Or I just miss the money I payed for the Gym”
– Why do you think being healthy is so important?
“Because I think if I exercise, if I´m healthy, I´ll have more options in my life”. Then, he adds, “also, it´s a little bit sad but, the way our society works, I think if you´re in a better shape, people respect you more”.