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Re: [feyerabend-project] OOPSLA Workshop Invitation

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  • Pascal Costanza
    ... I have only quickly and superficially skipped through their manifesto, but I already don t like most of what they say. (This is a gut feeling for the time
    Message 1 of 8 , Oct 1, 2002
      eliot@... wrote:
      > Don't know if this is news but there is some dissatisfaction in the art world with the "status quo" or the "contemporary scene", see
      > www.stuckism.com/index.html
      > and in particular their manifesto for Remodernism
      > www.stuckism.com/remod.html


      I have only quickly and superficially skipped through their manifesto,
      but I already don't like most of what they say. (This is a gut feeling
      for the time being.) This is partially because I am an atheist and
      therefore some of their statements appear strange to me (to say the
      least ;). However, my main objection here is that their manifesto
      doesn't seem radical enough. Let me explain what I mean by this...

      The current situation in our field is that there is a mainstream of
      research and practice that most of us don't like (some "cleaning women"
      [1] are Java, C#, XML, web services, and so on). Many of us suggest to
      replace these "cleaning women" with "obviously" better technologies and
      hope for these technologies to become the mainstream (again) instead.

      In "The Social Construction of What?" by Ian Hacking (a book that I have
      already mentioned elsewhere and that I highly recommend) gives the
      following analysis how such criticism works.

      "People begin to argue that X is socially constructed precisely when
      they find that:

      (0) In the present state of affairs, X is taken for granted; X appears
      to be inevitable."

      "Social construction work is critical of the status quo. Social
      constructionists about X tend to hold that:

      (1) X need not have existed, or need not be at all as it is. X, or X as
      it is at present, is not determined by the nature of things; it is not
      inevitable.

      Very often they go further, and urge that:

      (2) X is quite bad as it is.
      (3) We would be much better off if X were done away with, or at least
      radically transformed."

      Hacking further explicates that "social constructionists" don't
      necessarily need to proceed from one argument to the next. We may think
      that something (an X) is not inevitable but we don't need to conclude
      that X is bad.

      Most of us in the "Feyerabend community" are social constructionists in
      this regard. We see the whole world focusing on Java and XML but we tend
      to argue that this is not because of the technical merits but just
      because of social merits at best or, even worse, just by accident. (I
      guess nearly all papers that have been submitted to Feyerabend workshops
      can be categorized by how far the authors go in their criticism.)

      Now, how radical can we get? What do we want to get rid of? I see two
      possibilities: (1) We want to do away with the current mainstream (Java,
      XML, and so on) and replace it with better technologies (Scheme,
      Smalltalk, s-expressions). (2) We don't want to have _any_ kind of
      mainstream.

      I would rather like to think in terms of the second approach. I think
      the problems that we currently have result from the fact that there is a
      mainstream, and it doesn't matter what kind of mainstream it is. I don't
      think it would be an essential improvement if everyone would start to
      program in, say, Scheme and abandon everything else. This would just
      mean to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

      For example, in my opinion students should learn at least five or six
      programming languages from at least three different programming
      paradigms, including pure and hybrid languages, dynamically and
      statically typed languages, and so on. There are studies that show that
      this is what makes good programmers. There's no single approach that is
      the cure to all problems. (Sorry, I am starting to ramble...)

      Back to the "stuckism": I have the feeling that they're playing the same
      post-modern game as everyone else. They want to attract attention and
      want to establish themselves as another subculture in the current
      diversity of subcultures. Any attempt to become "the mainstream" is
      unrealistic. I don't think we can do away with post-modernism. The
      attack on post-modernism that it cannot provide the answers people need
      is not an attack because post-modernism is essentially the
      _acknowledgement_ of the fact that there cannot be a (coherent) answer.

      The "biological framings" project can be interpreted as a statement that
      there are still lots of things to be researched. It doesn't aim at
      getting rid of the state of art. That's what I like about it - it adds
      to the field, it doesn't fight it. The "rainbow conference" idea is in
      the same vein.

      ...

      (I am a little bit lost in my own reasoning, so I stop here. ;)

      Pascal


      [1] The term "cleaning woman" is borrowed from the movie "Dead Men Don't
      Wear Plaid". In this comedy, the main character (played by Steve Martin)
      always goes berzerk when he hears the words "cleaning woman" because he
      has the traumatic experience that in his childhood, his father left his
      mother because of a cleaning woman.

      --
      Pascal Costanza University of Bonn
      mailto:costanza@... Institute of Computer Science III
      http://www.pascalcostanza.de Ro"merstr. 164, D-53117 Bonn (Germany)
    • Gross Joshua
      ... I have to agree; the current manifesto trend (I d point to Dogme 95 - www.dogme95.dk - as a possible point of origin) is getting a bit absurd. It seems
      Message 2 of 8 , Oct 1, 2002
        --- Pascal Costanza <costanza@...> wrote:

        > I have only quickly and superficially skipped
        > through their manifesto,
        > but I already don't like most of what they say.

        I have to agree; the current manifesto trend (I'd
        point to Dogme 95 - www.dogme95.dk - as a possible
        point of origin) is getting a bit absurd. It seems
        that the end product of such a manifesto should be a
        collection of work that is noticeably coherent and
        similar as a unit, and that is noticeable dissimilar
        from other contemporary work. Looking at the work of
        the stuckists, it seems to be fairly typical
        comtemporary art. Dogme films, however, are noticeably
        different from their Hollywood counterparts. I would
        argue that this is because Dogme 95 is a real
        manifesto, bound by practical actions and limitations,
        rather than a set of (frankly) pseudo-philosophical
        assertions.

        > Back to the "stuckism": I have the feeling that
        > they're playing the same
        > post-modern game as everyone else. They want to
        > attract attention and
        > want to establish themselves as another subculture
        > in the current
        > diversity of subcultures.

        The stuckists are obviously playing a game, which is
        perfectly normal and natural with art (and perhaps
        software?). The game could be a success; the
        Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood -
        http://www.speel.demon.co.uk/other/prb.htm - was very
        successful. However, I think the whole point of
        stuckism is to self-affirm and other-reject ("Artists
        who don�t paint aren�t artists.", "Art that has to be
        in a gallery to be art isn�t art."). Artists can't
        actually reject innovation wholesale, nor can those of
        us in software; mining the past is worthwhile, but is
        not an end in itself.

        That having been said, it would be interesting to
        write a practical dogma (such as Dogme 95), which
        forced developers to abandon all of the nonsense that
        dominates software development.

        One of the areas of concern (for me) is the
        condemnation of commercial influence. I'm no
        laissez-faire free-marketer, but this notion that
        commercial eq corrupting and non-commercial eq
        creative is patently absurd. I won't insult the
        intelligence of this group by listing, but beautiful
        art has been produced as a commercial enterprise and
        abominations have come out of "pure" environments.
        This applies equally to software.

        I'm all for radical thinking, but I'd like to see some
        practical good come out of Feyerabend. Commercialism
        is an unstoppable force, and we are not an immovable
        object. I believe that commercialism can be exploited
        for good ends as well as bad, and that to exploit
        commercialism is by no means a perversion. Perhaps we
        can be like the Shaolin Buddhist monks; they pursue
        martial arts in an effort to understand and defeat
        violence.

        -Josh

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      • Pascal Costanza
        ... I have been away from my office for a while, so I couldn t respond in the meantime. Here are my $0.02: I think a kind of Feyerabend manifesto could be
        Message 3 of 8 , Oct 14, 2002
          Gross Joshua wrote:
          > --- Pascal Costanza <costanza@...> wrote:
          >
          >>I have only quickly and superficially skipped
          >>through their manifesto,
          >>but I already don't like most of what they say.
          >
          > I have to agree; the current manifesto trend (I'd
          > point to Dogme 95 - www.dogme95.dk - as a possible
          > point of origin) is getting a bit absurd. It seems
          > that the end product of such a manifesto should be a
          > collection of work that is noticeably coherent and
          > similar as a unit, and that is noticeable dissimilar
          > from other contemporary work.

          I have been away from my office for a while, so I couldn't respond in
          the meantime.

          Here are my $0.02: I think a kind of "Feyerabend manifesto" could be
          really helpful. One thing Dick has noticed correctly is that it is hard
          to get a paper accepted at conferences that is not part of normal
          science (in Kuhnian terms - I don't know if Dick stated it explicitly
          like this, but this is something I have drawn from his several
          writings/presentations/discussions).

          One of my experiences is that I have got a paper rejected with the
          stated reasoning that it's not important that a language is easily
          understood but it rather needs to be statically type safe. Regardless
          whether my paper was good or not, this is a statement that sounds
          strange to me, to say the least.

          Now I imagine a world where we would be able to attach a Feyerabend
          manifesto to our papers so that the likeliness increases that they are
          judged by the measures of that manifesto, and not by some arbitrary
          prejudices of reviewers (which you can never completely anticipate).

          Wouldn't that be /nice/? ;)

          I think Dick's "Polemic of the Proposed Effort" at
          http://www.dreamsongs.com/Feyerabend/FeyerabendInvite.html would be a
          very good starting point. The "Themes and Goals" of the Extravagaria
          workshop at http://www.dreamsongs.com/Feyerabend/Extravagaria.html can
          also be considered. If we could distil this to a list of, say, 7
          one-liners, we would have something useful IMHO. Something along the
          lines of Dogme's "Vow of Chastity" at
          http://www.tvropa.com/tvropa1.2/film/dogme95/the_vow/vow.html, perhaps?


          What do you think?


          Pascal

          --
          Pascal Costanza University of Bonn
          mailto:costanza@... Institute of Computer Science III
          http://www.pascalcostanza.de Römerstr. 164, D-53117 Bonn (Germany)
        • Gross Joshua
          I think that this is a good idea. The problem is that our interests seem diverse (and perhaps divergent). Can we create a manifesto that will result in a
          Message 4 of 8 , Oct 18, 2002
            I think that this is a good idea. The problem is that
            our interests seem diverse (and perhaps divergent).
            Can we create a manifesto that will result in a
            coherent and somehow unified body of work?

            I think it is possible. We have some commonalities: a
            belief in technology, an appreciation for the human in
            technology, and a generally broad view of "technology"
            topics.

            Perhaps, once we have a manifestoa, we should start
            our own journal (e.g. "The Feyerabend Journal of
            Computer Science Articles Previously Rejected as not
            Computer Science-y Enough")?

            -Josh
            --- Pascal Costanza <costanza@...> wrote:
            > Here are my $0.02: I think a kind of "Feyerabend
            > manifesto" could be
            > really helpful. One thing Dick has noticed correctly
            > is that it is hard
            > to get a paper accepted at conferences that is not
            > part of normal
            > science (in Kuhnian terms - I don't know if Dick
            > stated it explicitly
            > like this, but this is something I have drawn from
            > his several
            > writings/presentations/discussions).
            >
            > One of my experiences is that I have got a paper
            > rejected with the
            > stated reasoning that it's not important that a
            > language is easily
            > understood but it rather needs to be statically type
            > safe. Regardless
            > whether my paper was good or not, this is a
            > statement that sounds
            > strange to me, to say the least.
            >
            > What do you think?


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          • patrickdlogan
            First a question: any reports from OOPSLA? Then a follow-up to a message from last month... ... I would think at this stage a Feyerabend manifesto would be
            Message 5 of 8 , Nov 26, 2002
              First a question: any reports from OOPSLA?

              Then a follow-up to a message from last month...

              > The problem is that our interests seem diverse (and perhaps
              > divergent). Can we create a manifesto that will result in a
              > coherent and somehow unified body of work?

              I would think at this stage a Feyerabend manifesto would be somewhat
              diverse in its manifestations. What's needed today is diversity and
              experimentation rather than coherence and unification. A manifesto
              should promote those qualities.

              > Perhaps, once we have a manifestoa, we should start our own journal
              > (e.g. "The Feyerabend Journal of Computer Science Articles
              > Previously Rejected as not Computer Science-y Enough")?

              This on-line group archive seems to be enough of a journal. What's
              missing I think is discussion, especially about ideas and experiments.

              I am interested in time-oriented, history-preserving data streams,
              simple coordination models, adaptive object models, workflow, and
              process & rule definitions, simple & composable user interfaces, all
              made available to non-CS programmers.

              Primarily I am interested in finding simple ways for non-CS
              programmers to create time and space distributed adaptable systems.
            • Jay Han
              http://www.dreamsongs.com/Essays.html#ObjectsHaveFailed Objects have failed debate is very interesting. I thank rpg for making his notes available and hope
              Message 6 of 8 , Nov 26, 2002
                http://www.dreamsongs.com/Essays.html#ObjectsHaveFailed "Objects have
                failed" debate is very interesting. I thank rpg for making his notes
                available and hope the other participants in the debate would do likewise.
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