Thursday, November 8, 2007

"Fish School: Adventures in Pet Fish Training" Talk

About a year and a half ago, during the early stages of Fish School, I got a call from Carnegie Mellon University, where I received my PhD in Computer Science and where I was faculty for 8 years.

They invited me to give a lecture for the prestigious, widely-publicized and well-attended University Lecture Series. I figured they wanted me to talk about my experiences as the founder of a successful startup company to inspire young entrepreneurs.

But no - they wanted to hear about Fish School. They figured (rightly) that it would be much more entertaining!

So Kyle and I did our best to put together a scholarly but fun talk on Fish School. Here is the title and abstract:

Fish School - Adventures in Pet Fish Training

Dean & Kyle Pomerleau
Chief Fish Trainers
Fish School, Inc.

Abstract: Originally a whimsical attempt by a father and son to train their pet fish to perform tricks, "Fish School" has met with surprising success. This fun, non-technical talk will show video of what we’ve taught our pet fish to do, and the positive reinforcement techniques we’ve developed to teach them.

We will highlight the astonishing amount of attention Fish School has received in the popular press, including recognition in the 2007 Guinness Book of World Records as the "Pet Fish with the Largest Repertoire of Tricks" and the latest edition of Ripley’s "Believe it or Not". Finally, the talk will touch on the surprising response our fish training efforts have received from animal rights activists, including PETA’s "Fish Empathy" project.
On the title page of the talk, I had the opportunity to use one of my favorite quotes of all time:

I reject your reality and substitute my own” – Adam Savage, MythBuster

Here is one of the 19 slides from the talk to whet your appetite:

The talk was well attended and very well received. You're welcome to download and view the entire talk (2meg pdf) for yourself.

But please keep in mind that this talk is now nearly 1.5 years old - a lot has changed with Fish School since then. The talk provides historical context and interesting background material, but if you'd like to learn the latest about Fish School and pet fish training, please read the up-to-date material on this forum, and feel free to email us or leave a comment if you have any questions.


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