Re: [feyerabend-project] OOPSLA Workshop Invitation
- 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", seeI have only quickly and superficially skipped through their manifesto,
> and in particular their manifesto for Remodernism
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"
 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
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
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
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. ;)
 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)
- --- Pascal Costanza <costanza@...> wrote:
> I have only quickly and superficially skippedI have to agree; the current manifesto trend (I'd
> through their manifesto,
> but I already don't like most of what they say.
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
> Back to the "stuckism": I have the feeling thatThe stuckists are obviously playing a game, which is
> 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.
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
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- Gross Joshua wrote:
> --- Pascal Costanza <costanza@...> wrote:I have been away from my office for a while, so I couldn't respond in
>>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.
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
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
What do you think?
Pascal Costanza University of Bonn
mailto:costanza@... Institute of Computer Science III
http://www.pascalcostanza.de Römerstr. 164, D-53117 Bonn (Germany)
- 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"
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")?
--- 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
> 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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- 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 perhapsI would think at this stage a Feyerabend manifesto would be somewhat
> divergent). Can we create a manifesto that will result in a
> coherent and somehow unified body of work?
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 journalThis on-line group archive seems to be enough of a journal. What's
> (e.g. "The Feyerabend Journal of Computer Science Articles
> Previously Rejected as not Computer Science-y Enough")?
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.
- 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.