Cargo cult computer science
Prof. Harold Thimbleby

This event took place on 2nd July 2004 at 1:00pm (12:00 GMT)
Knowledge Media Institute, Berrill Building, The Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom, MK7 6AA

Arguably, computers and communications have changed the world more than any other science or technology. Yet there are a lot of failures, some prominent, many minor, and a widening gap between aspirations and reality - with environmental consequences. Borrowing Richard Feynman's criticism of cargo cult science, I discuss some ways we all are doing cargo cult computer science. To paraphrase Feynman: everywhere we have computers that look like they are doing the right things, but they don't work. After pointing out the widespread problems, the emphasis on the seminar will turn to our own behaviour: the evidence of poor science in research computing, and what we can positively do about it.

The talk naturally relates to software engineering, HCI, and computer science research, including "RAE publishing" more generally. Variations of the talk have been presented before, and it is quite controversial and provocative. Come along and contribute or argue!

The webcast was open to 100 users

Click below to play the event (84 minutes)

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