Re: A bit of bomb throwing....

From: Michael McDougall <>
Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2006 11:26:37 -0500

David Karger wrote:
> I've seen several mentions in this thread of the idea that while the
> goal of the open source community is to build stuff (clearly a sign of
> brains and productivity), the goal of academics is to publish papers
> (clearly some vain form of social parasitism). As a parasite---er,
> academic---I assert that in fact both communities have the same goal,
> which is to make things better than they are now. We simply have
> different horizons. Open source is about the software that you can
> build right now. Academia is about the software that you might be
> able to build 5 or 10 years from now.
Just to clarify, I wasn't trying put down academics. I've got a PhD and
I think academics are great and necessary and I still consider myself
something of an academic. Publishing papers is a worthy pursuit, whether
it's to lay the groundwork for 5-10 years from now or even to record
some mathematical fact that will never make it into software. I'm sorry
if I came off as dismissive of the parasites :), that wasn't my intention.

> So yes, academics may suffer enough human vanity to be disappointed
> when their "pet algorithm is discarded in favor of something better
> for the product", but that is irrelevant to the broader goal of
> getting that algorithm out there so that it can be picked up and used
> 5 years from now when it is just the right thing for the next product.
I was more thinking about someone setting up their research plan
depending on using an open-source project to test their pet algorithm.
Regardless of human vanity, it's a practical pain if the academic has to
scramble to re-arrange their research plan, find a new testbed, etc.

Received on Wed Jan 18 2006 - 16:26:22 EST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Thu Aug 09 2012 - 16:39:18 EDT