Online Posting Accountability
Here's a site: http://www.longbets.org/bets that takes socially important predictions. I might have to enter one or two.
I longed for such a accountable predictions for a long time. Usually, some faaking fart will do predictions, but the problem is that it's not accountable. So, lots faakhead morons in the IT industry will shout about their opinions on society and technology such as for example “Microsoft will fall within a decade” or “linux will rule”, or some technology issues such as “singularity”. But the problem is, any moron can sound big when there's no accountability associated with their cries. This website, at least makes it possible to do accountable opinions. (in the form of mandatory monetary donations as wager) But i really wished for a mechanism, so that any faakhead tech geekers with their loud cries will hurt badly when they open their mouths in public with wantonness.
Blogs, Longbets.org, and Education Of Sociology
For about the past 10 years, i have been concerned in the programing community's level of education in social issues.
I have recently found a piece of news that would be of interest to programers.
There was a bet at longbets.org (run by Long Now Foundation) regarding the importance of blogs. The bet was made in 2002. The prediction has a resolution date in 2007. In 2008, the bet is resolved. See: [Decision: Blogs vs. New York Times By Alexander Rose At http://blog.longnow.org/2008/02/01/decision-blogs-vs-new-york-times/ , accessed on 2010-01-26 ]
I'd like to encourage, for many of you, who have lots of opinions on technical issues or social issues surrounding software, to make use of longbets.org. It can help shape your thoughts from blog fart to something more refined. In any case, your money will benefit society.
Here's some examples you could try:
• I bet that Java will be out of the top 10 programing languages by 2020.
• You bet that Linux as a desktop system will or will not have a market share of such and such by the year xyz.
(I'm not sure the above “predictions” are candidates on longbets.org, since one of their rule is that the “predictions” should be socially important. Looking at existing entries on their site, the social importance of the above items pale in comparison. (however, many of their existing “predictions” are somewhat fringe))
Note, in almost all online forums where tech geekers gather (For example, newsgroups, slashdot, irc, etc), often they are anonymous, each fart ignorant cries and gripes and heated arguments, often in a irresponsible and carefree way.
One of the longbets.org's goal is to foster RESPONSIBILITY.
In recent years, i have often made claims that the Python's documentation, its writing quality and its documentation quality in whole, is one of the worst. (in a series of detailed essays. [see Python Documentation Problems]
Among all the wild claims in our modern world, from the sciences to social or political issues, my claim about Python's technical writing quality or its whole quality as a technical documentation, is actually trivial to verify by any standards. When presented to intellectuals of the world at large, the claim's verifiability is trivial, almost as a matter of fact checking (which are done by interns or newbie grads of communication/journalism/literature majors, working for journal publishing houses). However, when i voiced my opinion on Python doc among programing geekers online, it is often met with a bunch of wild cries. Some of these beer drinkers are simply being a asshole, which are expected by the nature of online tech geeking communities (a significance percentage are bored young males). However, many others, many with many years of programing experience as a professional, sincerely tried to say something to the effect of “in my opinion it's good”, or voice other stupid remarks to the effect of “why don't you fix it”, and in fact find my claim, and its tone too fantastical, to the point thinking i'm a youngling who are bent on to do nothing but vandalism. (the tech geekers use in-group slang for this: “troll”.)
The case of the Python doc is just one example. I have also, in the past decade, in _appropriate_ online communities (For example, newsgroups, mailing lists), voiced opinions on Perl's doc, emacs's doc, criticism on lisp nested syntax, “software engineering” issues (For example, OOP), various issues of jargons and naming (For example, currying, lisp1 vs lisp2, tail recursion, closure), emacs's user interface issues, criticism on the phenomenon of Open Source community's fervor for bug reporting, criticism on IT industry celebrities such as Larry Wall and Guido von Rossum, opinions on cross-posting, harm of Mac fanatics to Apple product's quality, … and others. Some of my claims are indeed controversial by nature. By that i mean that there is no consensus on the subject among its experts, and the issue is complex, and has political implications. However, many trivially verifiable, or even simple facts, are wildly debated or raised a ruckus, because the programers are utterly ignorant of basic social knowledge, lack of critical thinking abilities (philosophy, math, history studies), or due to their short-term, meaningless political banding (For example, a language faction, Open Source fervor) or current trends and fashions (For example, OOP, Java, “Patterns”, “eXtreme Programing”, … , Open Source and “Free” software movement, etc).
I think, the founding of Long Now Foundation with its longbets.org, shares a concern i have on the tech geeking communities. In particular, tech geekers need to have a better knowledge of social sciences, need to think in long term, and need to take on more personal responsibility, when they act or voice opinions on their love of technology. (note: not reading more slashdot or groklaw or more blissful podcasts on your beatific language or your charismatic programing idols)
(One thing you can do, is actually take a course on philosophy, history, law, economics, in your local community college.)
Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Long Now Foundation.