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Re: Social Computering vs. Computer Science

by samizdat (Vicar)
on Nov 22, 2005 at 14:40 UTC ( #510803=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Social Computering vs. Computer Science

  • Theoretical
  • Pragmatic
  • Hobbyist
  • Peck and Pray
Despite the pervasiveness of modern computers, most people fall into the fourth bin. Of course, many of these same people also fall into the "Guess" bin when it comes to arithmetic. There's a leap necessary in early education which we haven't taken with regard to getting elementary computing concepts embedded in kids' brains. I've wrestled with this one myself and haven't gotten over the hump despite years of work. I do think it is unfair to stigmatize iNtuitives (given that I'm an [I|E]NFP myself :) as clueless; that's far too simplistic.

I do think your distinction has validity in two very different ways. There has always been and always will be stress between those who want to simply study phenomena and those who realize that you need to produce useful things in order to eat. There are fewer and fewer ivory towers avaliable where both the bread and the electricity run freely! IBM Watson, Xerox PARC, RAND, Bell Labs, they are all gone or are shadows of what they were, but we are much the better for what they produced.

The second way to read it, though, emphasizes the Social. There are those who like to hang around the community. In the seventeen and eighteen hundreds, there used to be social clubs of people who would "do mathematics", usually waiting with baited breath for the latest from some real working mathematician like Euler or Ramanujan. Computing is rife with similar hobbyist groups, and, I think, this is much more the group which produces the babble that irritates. Most pragmatic programmers do cut through to produce and use workable methodologies. Whether they use the nomenclature of CS or not, they are aware of it and gladly learn more as they go. I think it is wrong to lump this group with the hobbyists.

Much as the fluff and babble is irritating, though, I would suggest that you also consider the benefits of having droves of Hobbyists and Peckers around. The PC on your desk is not there because of Brian Kernighan or Rob Pike or Larry Wall, it is there because Mr. PHB would like his accounting done on a beige-colored box and Joe Sixpack thinks his kid should learn some of this computing stuff.

Don Wilde
"There's more than one level to any answer."
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