Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit (banazir) wrote,
Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit

Illegitimi non carborundum

I aten't deead! And no, I'm knot jest pinin' fer the fnords.
I'm just a little behind.
(:look: Quiet, you.)

My CS attrition and team programming threads have gotten me thinking a bit more about retention ideas. I started out thinking about how we sometimes push out deserving majors (especially with interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary) and end up keeping the one-track minded ones more often than not.

Mind you, in IT there isn't necessarily anything particularly wrong with having a one-track mind, but neither is there One True Track (no, phawkwood and scottharmon, not even vi; indeed not even Slackware or Eclipse). But even as I subconsciously started typing "as long as it's a correct track", I stopped to reflect: who is qualified to judge? Equally, neither is virtue inherent in a one-track mind (however much a stereotypical tronkie would have you believe).

Now, on to the subject of this post.1
Do you, especially those who are in CS (or an IT field), feel that you have been ground down and pushed to the periphery of your discipline? Do you ever get the feeling that the function of the discipline is to perpetuate itself rather than foster new practitioners, methodology, and thinkers in general? Having read the musings of hfx_ben, auriam, consilience, and especially cavlec, I think it's all too often that it happens in academia.

I'm not speaking specifically to the issue of explicit discouragement. I'm talking about just the strict formality of it all. There is a Chinese aphorism that goes:

ge2 hang2 ru2 ge2 shan1
(A gap between disciplines is as a gap between mountains.)

I've always thrown up my hands in exasperation when my dad quotes this.

What do you all think?
Is the grinding good? Is it regrettable? Is it an unmitigated evil?
Does it depend on whether truly self-deluded people are being weeded out? Are there really a lot of self-deluded people?

Take my friends list for example (no, wait, I'm not calling you self-deluded!). On the one hand, you have up-and-comers such as scottharmon and zengeneral; on the other, people newer to the discipline such as deire, istari_ala, and idigital. (No, I'm not going to have you fight - you veterans know the gnubies would trask you, if for no other reason than that you are behind on sleep, as am I.) I predict that the perspective of veterans is more to "suck it up".

Now, don't get me wrong: I think per angusta ad augusta (no, not "through angsty fandom to the end of the summer"; rather "through adversity to triumph") is a fine and noble sentiment. I just think that it is all too easy to forget how we got here. Shakespeare knew it:

... lowliness is young ambition's ladder,
Whereto the climber-upward turns his face;
But when he once attains the upmost round,
He then unto the ladder turns his back,
Looks into the clouds, scorning the base degrees
By which he did ascend.
-Julius Caesar

1 The title ("don't let the bastards grind you down") is the correct form of nolite te bastardes carborundorum, a line from The Handmaid's Tale - a story about a near-future misogynistic dystopia by the Canadian author Margaret Atwood. If you fogured all of that out, go you!


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