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Author Topic: R. Sean Borgstrom: Ryan or Rebecca?  (Read 8370 times)

hgjs

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R. Sean Borgstrom: Ryan or Rebecca?
« on: July 16, 2008, 05:52:47 pm »
A poster on another forum did some digging, and came across a "Ryan Sean Borgstrom" who appears to have written all the papers by "R. Sean Borgstrom."

Quote
Originally posted by babayaga

It's a small world, and in my job I recently chanced upon a computer science paper (co-)authored some 15 years ago by one R.Sean Borgstrom: Comparison-Based Search in the Presence of Errors, R. Sean Borgstrom, S. Rao Kosaraju, STOC '93 pp. 130-136. For those of you who do not know, STOC is one of the two most prestigious conferences (together with FOCS) in theoretical computer science, and Kosaraju is a fairly big, senior name in the field. The paper is cute and elegant (to a mathematician's aesthetics).

I really like my bibliographies with the full names spelled out; plus I was wondering what were the chances that this person was actually Rebecca Sean Borgstrom author of Nobilis, having read somewhere that she actually held a doctorate in that field. So I tried looking a bit deeper into the actual name hiding behind that R.

I quickly chanced upon the home page of this person, here: http://www.cnds.jhu.edu/~rsean/
The quote from Vance's Madouc at the top hints at the RPG writer. Note that many computer scientists are rpg addicts, but there's something about the way Madouc is written (besides the fact that the main character is a young, weird girl) that just has "something" of the whimsy way in which Rebecca S. Borgstrom writes. I also found out that according to wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._Sean_Borgstrom) Rebecca S. Borgstrom holds a Ph.D. from the same institution hosting that home page (Johns Hopkins University); and indeed wikipedia links that home page - but I am always wary about trusting wikipedia on these things.

Unfortunately, nowhere in the aforementioned home page does the name hidden behind the R. appear - it's always R. Sean Borgstrom. I checked out two of the other papers linked by the page (the ones appearing in journals, rather than in conference proceedings - more likely to have more details and fewer errors) and I still could not find anything about the first name of the author. Nor could I find the full name in the page of the DSN research group of the author at Johns Hopkins (http://www.cnds.jhu.edu/people.html); in fact all but two of the people on that page sport a photograph - but not the mysterious R. Sean Borgstrom.

Then, I clicked on the (HTML) resume link on the home page, that led me here:
http://www.cnds.jhu.edu/~rsean/rsean-resume-december.html
and, although the mysterious R. remained mysterious even in the resume, towards the end of the page, I *did* read:

"Wrote Nobilis, a 260,000 word roleplaying game currently slated for release in January or early February 2002."

At that point things started to get strange.
Note that the resume's date is december 2001, so Rebecca S. Borgstrom still had not exploded into the rpg industry. She had, however, *already* published the first edition of Nobilis, in 1999. It felt a bit weird that she did not put the already published first edition in the resume instead pointing to the second edition (that indeed appeared in 2002). Another weird thing that caught my eye was that in the entry for the computer science publication that started my quest the acronym "STOC" was expanded into "Structural Theory of Complexity", instead of the correct "Symposium on the Theory of Computing". To those outside Computer Science this might seem an insignificant detail, but it's a mistake of about the same proportions as expanding D&D into Dilberts And Demigods in your resume as a freelance rpg writer.

Spurred by these minor inconsistencies, I did one more search, using DBLP, one of the best known databases for computer science publications. And what did I find?
Apparently the author of the STOC paper, and of another paper in the Johns Hopkins home page (the one at WADS), is one *Ryan* S. Borgstrom.
http://www.sigmod.org/dblp/db/indices/a-tree/b/Borgstrom:Ryan_S=.html

Ok. I searched on the web for "Ryan Borgstrom", and finally found a ton of links to all the computer science papers in the R. Sean Borgstrom home page (in fact, one page is from the Johns Hopkins DSN group, http://www.dsn.jhu.edu/publications.html) - nothing of that sort happened searching for Rebecca Borgstrom.

Summarizing, R. Sean Borgstrom the computer scientist appears to be a Ryan wherever the R. is expanded. But the resume at Johns Hopkins -
http://www.cnds.jhu.edu/~rsean/rsean-resume-december.html - states that this person is the same as the Nobilis author. So does the wikipedia article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._Sean_Borgstrom . And we know the Nobilis author to be Rebecca.

Hmmmm. Same person? Two people sharing a large fraction of their name? A proxy ritual - uh, wait, did I play too much Unknown Armies? Wait, there's a Rebecca Borgstrom in that game's "One Shots" supplement, too! And not among the authors. Among the *characters*. ARG!
 

King of Old School

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R. Sean Borgstrom: Ryan or Rebecca?
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2008, 06:27:01 pm »
Quote from: hgjs;225890
A poster on another forum did some digging, and came across a "Ryan Sean Borgstrom" who appears to have written all the papers by "R. Sean Borgstrom."

Uhhh, I thought it was commonly understood that RSB was transgendered.  Is there a point to this?

You know, this is the kind of thread that makes this site look bad to the wider community (esp. when it's posted by a mod).

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Pseudoephedrine

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R. Sean Borgstrom: Ryan or Rebecca?
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2008, 08:41:49 pm »
Quote from: King of Old School;225897
Uhhh, I thought it was commonly understood that RSB was transgendered.


I didn't know that. I don't particularly mind either way though.
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Werekoala

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R. Sean Borgstrom: Ryan or Rebecca?
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2008, 08:43:07 pm »
Quote from: King of Old School;225897
Uhhh, I thought it was commonly understood that RSB was transgendered.  Is there a point to this?


Are they? I had no idea. But I don't get out much.
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The Yann Waters

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R. Sean Borgstrom: Ryan or Rebecca?
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2008, 05:59:49 am »
Quote from: King of Old School;225897
Uhhh, I thought it was commonly understood that RSB was transgendered.

It's a rumour that seems to resurface every now and again: the Artist Formerly Known as Borgstrom prefers to keep her private life, well, private enough that some folks like to cultivate elaborate theories about what's up with that. Besides, even if that's the case, it has precious little to do with her work and gaming in general.
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Casey777

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R. Sean Borgstrom: Ryan or Rebecca?
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2008, 09:17:37 am »
Nice. Another low point in the "War Against ze Swinehunt".

So what's Pundie's real name, gender and sex?

Nicephorus

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R. Sean Borgstrom: Ryan or Rebecca?
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2008, 09:33:10 am »
Quote from: King of Old School;225897
Uhhh, I thought it was commonly understood that RSB was transgendered. Is there a point to this?

How can any aspect of the personal life of a game designer of a niche product be common knowledge?

Warthur

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R. Sean Borgstrom: Ryan or Rebecca?
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2008, 10:00:41 am »
This thread needs to be in Off-Topic. Whether or not Rebecca Borgstrom is transgendered (as far as I am aware she is) has precious little to do with roleplaying games, beyond the fact that she happens to have written a few.

What's next? Threads about Gary Gygax's choice of underwear? Discussions of what Steve Jackson had for breakfast this morning? Please. Surely we are better than this.
I am no longer posting here or reading this forum because Pundit has regularly claimed credit for keeping this community active. I am sick of his bullshit for reasons I explain here and I don't want to contribute to anything he considers to be a personal success on his part.

I recommend The RPG Pub as a friendly place where RPGs can be discussed and where the guiding principles of moderation are "be kind to each other" and "no politics". It's pretty chill so far.

Seanchai

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R. Sean Borgstrom: Ryan or Rebecca?
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2008, 11:38:47 am »
Quote from: King of Old School;225897
Uhhh, I thought it was commonly understood that RSB was transgendered.


I'm also among the folks saying, "Really?"

Quote from: King of Old School;225897
You know, this is the kind of thread that makes this site look bad to the wider community (esp. when it's posted by a mod).


Only if the wider community is hypersensitive. No one's saying there's anything wrong with being transgendered or that they particularly care.

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Dr Rotwang!

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R. Sean Borgstrom: Ryan or Rebecca?
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2008, 12:05:57 pm »
My first reaction to this post was, "I dunno, who cares?"  The answer, though, is "hgjs does", but it opens another question: "Why?"
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dar

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R. Sean Borgstrom: Ryan or Rebecca?
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2008, 12:11:25 pm »
Uhm, yea, I think it's a mystery cause she would have it that way. I'll admit to wanting to know the answers to mysteries... but... this goes to far. Sorry.

Jackalope

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R. Sean Borgstrom: Ryan or Rebecca?
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2008, 12:12:47 pm »
I read the first post as saying "Is Rebecca Borgstrom taking credit for Ryan Borgstrom's work to pad her resume?" not "That ain't no woman! It's a man, man!"
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Dr Rotwang!

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R. Sean Borgstrom: Ryan or Rebecca?
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2008, 12:14:57 pm »
Well, if hjgs just didn't know, then...that's somethin' else.  I mean, I used to not know, either.  But then I found out, and then I decided that knowing didn't change my life.
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Abyssal Maw

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R. Sean Borgstrom: Ryan or Rebecca?
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2008, 12:16:50 pm »
I think people are being a bit too sensitive. I didn't know either until last year, and I thought it was at least interesting.

Unless you think that is something that someone should be ashamed of, I don't see why it should be hidden or specifically not-discussed.
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Werekoala

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R. Sean Borgstrom: Ryan or Rebecca?
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2008, 12:40:22 pm »
If true, I wonder if it helps explain the rabid levels of defense of his/her work over at tBP, as being different from traditional social norms seems to be a badge of honor 'round those parts. RBS has always seemed to have been a special darling at tBP, based on what I've seen/read in the past.

Regardless, whatever, but it does possibly shed some light on some past events.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2008, 12:46:28 pm by Werekoala »
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"They don't fucking think for even a second about what they're doing because they're blinded by their ideology....Idiots." -  Sacrosanct