Why did you compile the C++ In-Depth Series? What were you hoping to share with your community?
The C++ community – like other programming communities – was (and is) plagued with "generic" beginners books, and with fat books trying to be everything for everybody. I felt a need for short books with contents that don't insult the reader's intelligence, and for books that build on experience and assume experience from the reader. The C++ community has matured – at least large chunks of it has – and that community deserves better than yet another "introduction to and reference for release X of product Y". One development that I consider very encouraging is that the C++ in Depth series seems to have become a home for descriptions of significant C++ libraries as well as for books on modern design and programming styles.
What new possibilities in your field are most exciting to you?
The tools for building distributed systems are getting better (both hardware and software). I'm looking forward to building really distributed and really reliable systems. I'd love to have a hand in building a system where I could securely and conveniently access my information from anywhere and have its integrity and availability unaffected by the collapse of any one system component or any likely combination of components.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in your field today?
Cynical – or simply overenthusiastic – business people tempt students to leave school without a degree. Many of the best students leave for lucrative and interesting jobs, just to find after a few years that they have no really good choices left. By curtailing their education they have limited the scope of their work and the alternatives for their careers. So my advice is: Get a solid education leading to the highest degree that makes sense for each individual. Also, don't just study computers, computer science, and "IT". Have another field of expertise: biology, music, history, or whatever. If nothing else, that will give a perspective of why some forms of computing are worthwhile. A broad education also tends to make life richer.
If you weren't doing what you're doing now, what would you be doing instead?
Probably studying some part of history or trying to make sense of some social system.
What is your latest/most favorite gadget?
My laptop, with my pack of card sized digital still camera as a close second.