TITLE: Rebooting Computing Summit -- This and That AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: January 21, 2009 7:55 AM DESC: ----- BODY: As always, my report on the Rebooting Computing Summit left out some of the random thoughts and events that made my trip. Here are a few. •   When I was growing up I learned that the prefixes "Mc" and "O'" indicated "son of" when used in names such as McDonald and O'Herlihy. I always wondered who the original ancestors were -- the Donalds and Herlihys. (Even then, I was concerned with the base case...) One of my favorite grad school profs was named Bill McCarthy, but I had never met a Carthy. Now I have... One of my table mates at the summit was Joe Carthy of Dublin! Joe shared some valuable insights on teaching computing. •   In my report, I wrote of my vision for the future of computing, in which children will routinely walk to the computer and write a program.... "Walk to the computer" -- that is so 1990s! Today's children carry their technology in their hands. •   During one of his messages, Peter Denning showed the familiar quote, "Insanity is doing the same thing over again, expecting different results," as a motivation to change. But I think there is more to it than that. I was reminded of a recent Frazz comic, in which the precocious Caulfield pointed out that the world is always changing, so it is also insanity to do the same thing over again, expecting the same results. The world is changing around computing and computing education. There is no particular reason to think that doing the same old things better will get us anywhere useful. •   At one point, Alan Kay said that part of what is wrong with computing is that too many of us "fool around", rather than working to change the world. This, he said, is a feature of a popular culture, not a serious one. First, we had real guitar. Then came air guitar. And now we have Guitar Hero. He is, of course, right, and written occasionally of being shamed at coming up short when measured against his vision. Later that evening, my roommate Robert Duvall discussed whether Guitar Hero might have some positives, by motivating some of the people who play it to learn to play a real guitar. I don't have a good feel for the culture around Guitar Hero, so I'll have to wait and see. New technologies often interact with younger generations in ways that we old folks can't predict. (My prurient side wants to say that Guitar Hero can't be all bad if it gives us Heidi Klum playing air guitar in her privates.) •   A Creative Interlude On the second day of the summit, each table was asked to communicate to the rest of the groups its vision of the future of CS. The facilitators encouraged us to express our vision creatively, via role play or some other non-bullet list medium. One group did a neat job on this, with one ham performer playing the central role in a number of vignettes showing where the computing of tomorrow will have taken us. This is the sort of exercise for which I am ill-equipped to excel alone, but I am able to do all right if I am in a group. My table decided to gang-write a song -- doggerel, really. With Christmas still close in our memory, we chose the tune to the familiar carol "Angels We Have Heard On High", in part, I think, for its soaring "Gloria"s. The result was "Everyone Now Loves CS". Our original plan was for Susan Horwitz to sing our creation, as she does this sort of thing in many of her classes and so is used to the attention. A few of us toyed with the idea of playing air guitar in the background, but I'm glad we opted not to; the juxtaposition of our performance with Alan Kay's remarks later that afternoon would have been unfortunate indeed! About five minutes before the performance Susan informed us that we would be singing as a group. So we did. My students should not expect a reprise. My conference history now includes singing and acting. I don't imagine that dance is in my future, but you never know. -----