How to get through Harvard

From John Markoff

A variety of legends have grown up around Bill Gates’ brief career at Harvard. (He dropped out halfway through and co-founded Microsoft). On Tuesday night, during an interview at the “D: All Things Digital” conference in Carlsbad, Calif., Mr. Gates regaled the audience with his strategy of not bothering to attend classes and then catching up in a single intense burst during a separate reading period at the end of the term.

On Wednesday afternoon, Facebook founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, himself a Harvard dropout, appeared to one-up Mr. Gates. Mr. Zuckerberg acknowledged that he had also skipped classes, in particular avoiding “Art in the Time of Augustus.”

When it came time for the end-of-term study period, he was too busy building the prototype of Facebook to bother to do the reading. So in an inspired last-minute save, he built a Web site with all of the important paintings and room for annotation. He then sent an e-mail to the students taking the class offering it up as a community resource.

In a half an hour, the perfect study guide had self-assembled on the Web. Mr. Zuckerberg noted that he passed the course, but he couldn’t remember the grade he received.

Zuckerberg’s the original one.