Tue, 31 Jan 2006
OOPSLA Essays 2006
Last year, I was track chair for the OOPSLA essays track. This year,
thankfully, it's Richard
P. Gabriel, who will be more successful than I was. I'm on the
committee. A quote from
An essay is a rigorously peer-reviewed reflection on technology, its
relation to human endeavors, or its philosophical, sociological,
psychological, historical, or anthropological underpinnings. An essay
can be an exploration of technology, its impacts, or the circumstances
of its creation; it can present a personal view of what is, explore a
terrain, or lead the reader in an act of discovery; it can be a
philosophical digression or a deep analysis.
What makes for a successful essay? At its best, an essay is a clear
and compelling piece of writing that enacts or reveals the process of
understanding or exploring a topic important to the OOPSLA
community. It may or may not have a conclusion, but it must provide
some insight or argument. A successful essay shows a keen mind coming
to grips with a tough or intriguing problem; as Virginia Woolf wrote,
"it explains much and tells much." [from the preface of "Memoirs of a
Working Woman's Guild"].
The idea of essays is one of those oddities that have made OOPSLA so
interesting and productive over the years. You should submit. By
## Posted at 06:01 in category /oopsla
Mon, 10 Jan 2005
OOPSLA call for papers is out
The OOPSLA Call
for Papers is out. I'm chair of the Essays track. Here's its
Some ideas are the result of research and others of
reflection. Sometimes it takes someone sitting down and just thinking
about how things are connected, what a result really means, and how
the world really is. Some of the most impressive products of
civilization are its essays - philosophy, for example, is reflection
captured in essays. An essay presents a personal view of what is,
explores a terrain, or leads the reader in an act of discovery. Some
contributions to computing come in the form of philosophical
digressions or deep analysis. An essay captures all these - one at a
time or all at once.
Each essay will be afforded a 45-minute speaking slot and allocated
about 20 pages in the proceedings.
I've assembled a wide-ranging committee: a business school professor,
the MIT AI lab, head of the Illinois sociology department,
professors of philosophy,
sociology (again), and statistics, a
Forrester researcher, a Pragmatic Programmer, the director of the
Warren-Wilson Master of Fine Arts program, another software
consultant, and me.
As that list implies, we're looking for submissions from both those within
the software fold and those outside it. Spread the word, please.
See also this:
Submissions are due March 18.
## Posted at 14:25 in category /oopsla
Sat, 06 Nov 2004
That ol' "n degrees of separation" thing
When you're asking people to do work for you, especially unpaid work,
it helps a lot if you already have a personal relationship.
In staffing next year's OOPSLA
track, I want to find committee members who are well known,
interdisciplinary, and like novelty and change. I know some - never enough - people like that in software, but I know fewer outside
software. So I'm going to do something quirky: diffuse invitations
through a network. Here's how:
of my unused wikis, I've placed a list of people who I
think would fit well with our plans and might find the
opportunity interesting or even useful. (Right now, they're
Malcolm Gladwell, Rodney Brooks, Lucy Suchman, Etienne Wenger,
Corey Doctorow, Lawrence Lessig, Edward Felton, and Eszter
If you (a) know someone who is more likely to know the person
named than you are, and (b) think that intermediate person would find the
idea of the essays track interesting enough to forward it on,
send them the text you
But incorrigible optimist that I am (heh!), I'm afraid of a sorcerer's
apprentice situation. I don't want intermediate people or
the final recipient to get an annoying amount of email. So before you
send mail headed for a particular person, check if four people
already have. If four people have, don't send mail. Otherwise,
do send mail and leave a note on the wiki.
If you know one of the targeted people, contact me so that we can
arrange an introduction.
Thanks. Let's see what happens...
## Posted at 14:37 in category /oopsla
Mon, 01 Nov 2004
OOPSLA essays track
The program chair for OOPSLA 2005, Richard P. Gabriel, wants to shake
things up. As part of that he's going to institute an Essays track,
and I will be program chair for that track. I'm hunting for people to
serve on the committee.
The essays don't have to be original research, the usual OOPSLA
fare. Instead, they'll be of two types.
Richard describes one as "the first draft of your Turing Award
lecture". The Turing Award, as the highest honor in computer science,
comes with the obligation to produce a speech, usually of the sweeping
nature expected from an elder in the field. We're looking for essays
of that sort: a survey of breadth and experience, telling the field
something about itself, making tacit assumptions and habits explicit.
Essays from outsiders who are deeply experienced in a different field,
have some knowledge of ours, and can come to us and say, "It's so odd
that you do X, because we in field Y do that sort of thing completely
differently". These essays should shake us out of our ruts.
To that end, I'd like to get committee members from both inside and
outside the field. When they come from inside, I'd like them to have
serious knowledge of some outside field. I welcome suggestions.
## Posted at 09:38 in category /oopsla