TITLE: OOPSLA This and That AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: October 28, 2006 8:05 PM DESC: ----- BODY: In addition to the several OOPSLA sessions I've already blogged about, there were a number of other fun or educational moments at the conference. Here are a few...
  • Elisa Baniassad presented an intriguing Onward! talk called The Geography of Programming. She suggested that we might learn something about programming language design by considering the differences between Western and Eastern thought. Her motivation came from Richard Nisbett's The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently--And Why. One more book added to my must-read list...
  • Partly in honor of OOPSLA stalwart John Vlissides, who passed away since OOPSLA'05, and partly in honor of Vlissides et al.'s seminal book Design Patterns, there was a GoF retrospective panel. I learned two bits of trivia... John's favorite patterns were flyweight (which made it into the book) and solitaire (which didn't). The oldest instance of a GoF pattern they found in a real system? Observer -- in Ivan Sutherland's SketchPad! Is anyone surprised that this pattern has been around that long, or that Sutherland discovered its use over 40 years ago? I'm not.
  • On the last morning of the conference, there was scheduled a panel on the marriage of XP and Scrum in industry. Apparently, though, before I arrived on the scene it had morphed into something more generally agile. While discussing agile practices, "Object Dave" Thomas admitted he believes that, contrary to what many agilists seem to imply, comments in code are useful. After all, "not all code can be read, being encrypted in Java or C++ as it is". But he then absolved his sin a bit by noting that the comment should be "structurally attached" to the code with which it belongs; that is a tool issue.
  • Then, on the last afternoon of the conference, I listened in on the Young Guns panel, in which nearly a dozen computer scientists under the age of 0x0020 commented on the past, present, and future of objects and computing. One of these young researchers commented that scientists tend to make their great discoveries while still very young, because they don't yet know what's impossible. To popularize this wisdom, gadfly and moderator Brian Foote suggested a new motto for our community: "Embrace ignorance."
  • During this session, it occurred to me that I am no longer a "young gun" myself, spending the six last days of my 0x0029th year at OOPSLA. This is part of how I try to stay "busy being born", and I look forward to it every year. I certainly don't feel like an old fogie, at least not often.
  • Finally, as we were wrapping up the conference in the committee room after the annual ice cream social, I told Dick Gabriel that I would walk across the street to hear Guy Steele read a restaurant menu aloud. Maybe there is a little bit of hero worship going on here, but I always seem to learn something when Steele shares his thoughts on computing. ---- Another fine OOPSLA is in the books. The 2007 conference committee is already at work putting together next year's event, to be held in Montreal during the same week. Wish us wisdom and good fortune! -----