Hey! A whole paragraph with which I completely agree!! This sounds to me like an example of exactly the bad atbreastudes I thought you were saying aren't a factor -- men...
(First I have to say that I started writing my response without reading everything you had to say. After reading your last paragraph, some editing was needed. The first draft was a lot, um, testier maybe.)
I didn't make myself clear, I think. What I meant by "theory ideas" was, hm, how to clarify ....
Every time I say "theory" (here and elsewhere), you seem to interpret it as meaning what it means in science, particularly in experimental science, as something that has explanatory or predictive power, that has been subjected to testing that supports it, and so forth. (This is not an accusation, just an observation, and I could be wrong.)
But the word means something different in other contexts. That's not what it means in the common-use phrase "just a theory", and much confusion ensues when people confuse "just a theory" with "theory as the word is used in science." I think we both know this, and probably everyone else in this group does too.
What I meant by "theory" here is what's done in theoretical fields as contrasted to experimental ones. CS has theoretical subfields, which overlap to some extent with math, and what people do in (some of?) these fields is theorems and proofs and like that. That's what I mean by "theory ideas." I don't know how familiar you are with this stuff. I can expand, but won't unless asked.
I suppose there's a meaning of "buildable" that applies there too, if a "theory idea" is a conjecture (in the mathspeak sense), and "buildable" means "can be proved".
You are remembering that academia makes two kinds of products, right? students with degrees, and research publications-results?
Focusing on the former, though:
Yes, whether our graduates meet the needs of "the biz" for new workers is another perennial topic of discussion in (at least some parts of) academia. I don't know how common this is, but in the two schools where I've taught (not counting being a TA), there was some insbreastutional mechanism for trying to buttess whether our "product" was meeting the needs of the marketplace. I think in both cases the mechanism included input from people in "the biz".
Uh-uh, not going to respond to *that* one. Much too broad. (Sort of a :-) . )
Focusing on this particular topic, though ....
Yes, you are not the only person I hear complaining that people with CS degrees often don't seem to have the knowledge or skills to be useful to prospective employers. (That's a nice way to say it.) That's a problem. To some extent we in academia have to depend on the quality of our raw material (incoming students), but if there's something we could do differently to give a better result, yeah ....
I think we do have some successes. The department where I teach has a few "repeat customers" (local businesses that seem eager to hire our graduates, and even current students), and I think that indicates some degree of success. I'm sure we're not unique in that respect.
Those are the people who decide how our work is evaluated (for the purposes of keeping our jobs, e.g.), true.
But my point is that in a development group, people can evaluate each others' work based on "real" criteria, because they (usually?) have a fair amount of shared background knowledge, and they work together enough to have a pretty good idea of whose stuff works and whose doesn't.
Okay, tangent here. I realize that what I originally wrote was almost exclusively about how the research part of academic work is evaluated. Evaluating the teaching part is a whole other can of worms. I think most schools that care about it (and the big research schools often don't, much) are apt to rely on student evaluations of courses, and there are problems with those. (They tend to be heavily influenced by whether the students like the instructors, which doesn't always correlate very well with whether they learned anything. I could say quite a lot about that, but won't unless asked.)
Back to the main thread, though. I don't think in academia it *CAN* work the way it works in a development group, even with different rules.
snip Ah. I misunderstood. (If I'd been reading carefully, I'd have realized that in the sentence you were responding to, "them" means parents in...
With regard to research, two people working in very specialized and very different areas .... How is one going to know whether what the other is doing is any good? Ask outside experts (as is usually done in the promotion-and-tenure process)? Sure, but how do you choose the experts? Count number of publications? Sure, but should 10 mediocre papers really be worth 10 times as much as one good paper? Count dollars of grant money? What if the person doesn't apply for funding because he-she doesn't need it? (Think someone working on theorems-proofs -- how does money help?)
I guess it might be a little different with teaching, especially with students who are CS majors. If people taking CS2 have to have taken CS1 first, and the people teaching CS2 notice that none of the people who took CS1 with Joe seem to know anything, that might be a big clue. If they all seem unusually well-prepared, that's another clue. Whether this correlates at all with what the students wrote on their course evaluations is another question.
(Another tangent. Think about having your job depend, to some extent, on what people who know far less than you do say about your work. This whole "student evaluations" thing is hugely contentious. I think everyone recognizes that it's an imperfect measure, and yet it some sense it has to be included.)
Well .... See my comments below.
Well .... See my comments below.
It does? I thought it only happened in Redmond. ":-)" ?
Your comments above seem to ignore this paragraph, which was a key part of my example. (Maybe you did that on purpose, to push the discussion in a different direction. But to continue.)
Joe's persistence might be good, if he's making progress toward a solution, or even getting results about what doesn't work, so that other people don't explore the same bad approaches.
But what if he's not? I'll agree that it's really hard to measure productivity when what you're supposed to be doing is thinking -- I mean, good ideas can come even to people who don't appear to be working hard, and indeed, maybe that's more common than not. But surely you can imagine cases in which someone claims to be thinking hard about a problem, but anyone who understands the problem and the person would know that getting any useful results is highly unlikely.
As for whether Sally's going to apply something Joe's doing to her work .... If Sally is really smart, that might happen even if they work in really different areas. If she's not, who knows. And in my example, she's meant to represent people who do mediocre work at best but know how to sell themselves. That doesn't sound to me like someone who would be able, or even willing, to figure out how to use the work of someone in an area she doesn't know anything about.
Besides, all he's doing is whining, remember? any work he's doing remains in his head, or on his desk unshared with others. And it may be very good work, but it's not going to help anyone else unless-until he talks about it.
What I'm saying is that without some common background knowledge, how do you tell the difference?? Yes, some people who talk up their work are doing great stuff that might even be of use to the people around them who are working in other fields. But others are just blowhards.
Think about some field you respect but don't know much about. How would you decide if someone was doing good work in that field?
Sally was meant as an example of people who don't do anything very interesting or useful but who know how to sell themselves.
You are talking about a different kind of person.
I will admit that I care what other people think about me more than a person really should. It's a character flaw.
That might give you an accurate impression about whether I think impressing other people is a worthy goal, but to spell it out: I don't.
However, I think sometimes it can be a necessary means to an end. If the only way to get hired for a job where you can do the kind of work you want to do is to impress the right people, what are you going to do?? You could work unpaid, for the sheer love of the field, but for most people that is not going to be economically feasible.
If I sound angry, it's because I'm frustrated that we don't seem to be communicating.
(Also, I think there's a certain irony in the fact that I, the left-leaning politlcally correct type, deliberately tried to make up a story with characters who are the opposites of the PC stereotypes, and then you, the "that's PC idiocy!" type recast it so that Sally's a hero too. ":-)"? )
I started to say "exactly", but then realized you might have meant something different from what I meant about the work environments being different.
As for "beginning" .... Beginning to mention it in this thread, yes. I figured out the stuff I mentioned in the earlier post several years ago, but only recently thought to apply it here. I think I come across as being younger and less experienced than I am. I don't care to think too much about some of the possible explanations. :-)
If you don't mind my asking .... How much personal experience do you have with how things work in academic workplaces?
Yes, that's a difference, and it matters.
It's not the one I was talking about, though. What I'm talking about is how people evaluate each others' work.
Oh my. Thank *you*. I'm spending more time on this than I should be given the other stuff I have to do, but I'm sort of hooked. Maybe I can call it "improving my writing skills"? which, like a lot of academics, I do need, because if I'm not careful I can crank out the most awful academic glurge .... I think there were plenty of examples of that in the 3000-post thread. Yuck.
-- B. L. Mbuttingill ObDisclaimer: I don't speak for my employers; they return the favor.