Monday, January 12, 2009

Rebooting Computing

Per Alfred's request, I am posting something about today's Rebooting Computing summit. It goes for three days. Leigh Ann has a good summary of the activities, so I won't focus on that. I am also sitting at a table with famous people; I think most of the tables had famous people at them, depending on how you define "famous."

The thing I found most notable was how many of the people I respect feel like impostors. The initial questions about "what experience made you realize how much you love computer science" and "think of a project in CS you created and elaborate on the experience" were fairly intimidating for people who don't have those experiences. The person I was sitting next to is an environmental scientist. She has a LOT to offer in terms of where computer science intersects with other disciplines - and also in understanding how we can attract people who are prepared for CS but end up going into other things. Fortunately she was an excellent sport in answering the questions and we had a wonderful conversation. 

Another thing that is interesting is how uncomfortable many of the participants are with the process. It's a very K-12-ish, California-ish, hippy-ish process. I figure most (if not all) of today was about establishing trust between participants. Tomorrow and especially Wednesday, the work will get done. Many people find it slow and are eager to get to work. I learned at a diversity training a few years ago that it is embedded in white, male culture to be focused on product. It is embedded in other cultures (female, latino, others) to be focused on process. It's very process-driven. 

It's been very interesting. I have been crocheting since we're not supposed to use phones or e-mail. I have not gotten as much done on my blanket as I'd hoped, but I was having gauge problems and had to pull a bunch out. 


  1. First off I really do appreciate your Twittering during and blogging about Rebooting Computing. It has been both interesting and helpful to me.

    Though I do wonder about crocheting in a session. I've seen Maria Klawe painting in conference sessions so you're not the only one who does that sort of thing. How does that work for you and do you think students could get away with doing it in class? :-)

  2. It was fun to twitter and blog during it. We really missed you - Robb said, "Alfred should have been here!" Knowing I had an audience who wanted to know was useful. I write better when I have an audience in mind.