Monday, March 10, 2003

Onward! and the Feyerabend Project

A theme that I'll develop over the next few months in this blog is that computer science as a field is off track. That somewhere, in the past few decades, we made a few assumptions that, while they may have served a role then, limit our progress today.

A group of computer scientists, lead by Richard Gabriel of Sun Microsystems is trying to fix computer science. This is known as the Feyerabend Project, named after philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend.

Feyerabend's fascinating thesis was that our beliefs about the "scientific method" are largely fictional. Science does not, according to Feyerabend, actually use the scientific method to make forward progress. Rather, it draws on myth, mistaken belief, and propaganda. One of his best known works, Against Method, claims that not only do scientists not use the scientific method, they shouldn't.

One way you can participate in the Feyerabend Project is to submit a paper to Onward!: Seeking New Paradigms and New Thinking. It's a special track at OOPSLA, one of the best of the computer science conferences. If you've got a wild or crazy idea on how to do software better or improve computer science, you should submit it to Onward. The deadline is March 21st, 2003, so hurry up. Disclaimer: I am a member of the program committee.