Mark Guzdial attended the first day of the ICER 2010 conference in Denmark this week. He blogged about that day (Blogging the first day of ICER 2010) and it sure does make me wish I had been able to go. Next year the conference is in Rhode Island so maybe I’ll be able to swing it. For now I am reading blog posts about it and waiting until the conference journal shows up in my mail box. One particularly interesting thing I borrowed from Mark’s post was his summary of Moti Ben-Ari’s keynote talk, Non-Myths About Programming. He had seven (eight really) statements that people today talk about as being “myths,” but he says are quite true.
He then said that there’s a new myth being propagated that he dislikes, that CS is NOT primarily about programming. He says it is.
OK that last point about programming and CS is going to be controversial. But is he just stating something along the lines of the “emperor is not wearing any clothing?” This is one I want to ponder. And of course I am hoping that smarter people than me will put forth solid arguments one way or another.
I disagree about programming being boring though. I find it to be fun most of the time. And programming can be social if you do it right. Ben-Ari may be defining social too narrowly. I wish I had been there to hear the whole talk for more context. Still there is a lot of potential for discussion here. Opinions?
"CS is not primarily about programming." Depends on how you look at it. I think too many people say that CS is only programming and that can turn some people off to even trying it. CS is about solving problems using computational methods--sometimes programming. :) And I agree with Mark's comment to the speaker that decontextualizing beginning CS is a bad idea. Kids want to see a program do something--create art, make a robot go, sing a song--not calculate the 1000th prime number. When they see what programs are capable of, then they are more willing to get through some more difficult things to make programs that do really cool things.
This "What is CS" conversation is always entertaining. It seems the categorizing CS is a favorite past-time of CS people. I have a tendency to throw all sorts of things at the CS category while others want it to be “programming only”. I think “the study of computers” is if you are doing something with, to, and maybe even near a computer. Makes me think of the Jeff Foxworthy “You might be a redneck ..” series of jokes. “You might be involved in computer science if you…” just does not have the humor the redneck lines have.
Just sent you a tackback, please accept it. Good entry. I enjoyed the "myths"