Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Accessibility in the Clouds

So, as many of you hopefully were successful at seeing old friends and making new ones at SIGCSE 2008, I was busy in the back room keeping the whole thing going ("Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain ...") -- that's why we have co-chairs, so while Susan Rodger would provide "cover", I was able to meet some interesting people as well -- too many to list here, but that's why I return each year to this conference.

One group involves how to teach students for large-scale (actually, growing in scale), data intensive computing as realized on the Internet today -- with a background in HPSC and dependable computing (actually, performability, just to test your spell-checker), I am professionally interested in how to get students (esp. at a small college) to think big; or better yet, to experience big.

Long story short, I am pleased to say that others are interested too, so to have such a discussion I help orchestrate a workshop on DISC, or Data-Intensive Scalable Computing -- it's happening fast, this July 16-18 at the University of Washington -- so do not delay, visit this link to apply.

I was moved to put this announcement for the workshop as I read this article about how politics may impact "cloud computing," the media buzz term for DISC -- they note that global politics may impact OLPC efforts to reach certain populations -- well, it is part of society, but I do not have to like it (so in response, I am working on a song "When Science Meets Society," check later to see if I make enough progress to post the song :-).

Monday, May 19, 2008

ITiCSE 2008 registration opens

If you enjoyed SIGCSE 2008 (or past ones), then consider attending ITiCSE 2008 (and future ones too), this year in Madrid, Spain -- Cary Laxer invites all to register and attend what is loosely described as a smaller European conference on computing and education, with neat opportunities like working groups -- sponsored by SIGCSE, I have always heard great things (and enjoyed my ITiCSE trip!).

I personally cannot attend as I am hosting CSESI 2008, an outreach project here at Haverford, funded by HHMI, to provide a forum to explore computing in K-12 education. Unless you have a good reason like this, I strongly urge you to get to Spain, oh what you'll gain :-)

Friday, May 16, 2008

OLPC and MS for (more) accessibility ...

Hey, there's a Microsoft deal that is more relevant than the popular one involving Yahoo! (though who knows how that will play out) -- no, I am referring to the announcement of the Microsoft and One Laptop Per Child program to put Windows on the XO -- this will add a few bucks to the final cost, but low cost is one of the driving forces for this project (cost can be a barrier to access, and thus to potential diversity) -- from a quick read of the NY Times article, it seems again that politics and culture (and "profit") are all involved (understandably so) and it appears that OLPC may have learned from other experiences -- stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

So, What Is It About Girls and IT?

The title of this post is taken directly from an article in the Financial Times that describes the known gap in gender and IT -- specifically, that women use IT, and that girls feel IT is "cool" somewhere in the 90% range (the details are in the article, do not trust my memory only) -- so, why?

Shame they missed SIGCSE 2008, maybe they could have come down with us in the trenches of teaching computing and see some of the realities we all see. Another shame is that women may be adding a set of skills presently underrepresented, and needed (see Mark Guzdial's blog post about "computing + X").

I still think it is about access in the most general (perhaps most ideal) sense of the word -- looking at the research in so many other fields about the differences between men and women, we need to think differently, think about flexibility, adaptability, all the good HCI stuff -- do that for a decade or two, and perhaps things will change a bit (I will certainly be changed in that I will be looking to use those retirement funds :-).


Also, I just wanted to send out thanks to the Sisters Rodger -- Sandra for taking so many photos of SIGCSE 2008, and Susan for putting the photo albums online for all to see -- if you missed the Symposium, you can venture to the albums, but be warned, it will just remind you of what a great conference it was -- and perhaps motivate you to work on your SIGCSE 2009 research/writing earlier, get funding and make travel/lodgings plans ASAP.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Last Lecture Number 1 ..

Hey, I realize he didn't even show up for his award ;-), but I still think it is OK for me to note how cool it is that Randy Pausch continues to make CS and computing education "cool." I just saw that the audio book of his "Last Lecture" is number one on iTunes today, as well as at -- I saw the lecture, but have yet to read the book.

Not sure where is best to purchase, but here Randy's page with some links, as well as video of his testimony before Congress (i.e., where he was in lieu of SIGCSE 2008, so he was busy, and rarely do I get a video absence note :-).