Archive for July, 2005

NBER on the S&E workforce

Wednesday, July 27th, 2005

This month, the National Bureau of Economic Research–”nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of how the economy works” and long-time breeding ground of Nobel winners–published a treatise on the United States’ diminishing role in science and engineering research and workforce preparedness. It links these losses to not just the nation’s technological dominance but also its much more general economic leadership and health. Author Richard Freeman is an economics professor at Harvard and a fellow at the London School of Economics.

(Hat tip to Slashdot.)

Tech Industry’s take on current administration

Tuesday, July 26th, 2005

While we here at CTWatch may seem to have a keener eye toward cyberinfrastructure policy as it relates to academia, we won’t overlook the private sector. Whether or not this article is reflective of the overall tech industry’s grading of the current Bush administration isn’t for us to decide. However, not surprisingly, the opinions illustrated in this article (and many others) seem to be partisan driven, meaning those that lean more politically to the right seem to be more positive and those that lean more to the left seem to be more critical. Also, not surprisingly, those with influential positions within the administration won’t dare go on the record and be critical.

We have often pointed out that in the bigger picture, industry, government, and academia should work more closely together towards common cyberinfrastructure goals. If you’re in the tech industry, what do you think about the current administration’s view of the industry and their view on innovation and technology in general?

HP cuts include hit at Labs

Thursday, July 21st, 2005

And now to dovetail with our ongoing discussion of shrinking long-term R&D efforts, word from one of the few desktop computing companies to invest in R&D at all that its staff will be reduced by 10 percent. The AP reports (via Technology Review) that: “As part of a massive restructuring that includes 14,500 job cuts companywide, Hewlett-Packard Co. is discontinuing four research projects at HP Labs…About…70 of HP Labs’ 700 employees worldwide will receive layoff notices.”

Among those cut was Alan Kay, “best known for his work in graphical user interfaces while working at Xerox’s research lab in the 1970s.”

More on CS/IT education

Thursday, July 21st, 2005

To dovetail with the earlier post re: Bill Gates’ views on education, a bit from MSNBC. The article highlights the drop in interest in traditional CS education–”the Higher Education Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles found 60 percent fewer [students] wanted to study computer science in 2004 as opposed to the year 2000.” This coupled with explosvie growth in the number of IT-related degrees going to nontraditional students and minorities at for-profit institutions like DeVry.

Experts such as [AAAS’s Shirley] Malcom [recently featured in NCSA’s Access magazine] think some colleges should “take a page” off the for-profit, client-based institutions such as Strayer and DeVry, and make computer science more accessible, practical and less intimidating, to get more 18 year-olds to major in computer science.

Bill Gates on computer science education

Wednesday, July 20th, 2005

The latest edition of InformationWeek has an interesting piece summarizing Bill Gates’ take on declining student interest in the discipline of computer science. Microsoft is hosting its annual Research Faculty Summit this week in Redmond Washington in which hundreds of computer science faculty from around the country and abroad are invited to meet, brainstorm, and share visions of computing in the future. According to Microsoft’s website, this year’s summit, titled “Computing: The Next Decade” will focus on

the research and technical challenges in areas such as security, mobility, software engineering, languages, human-computer interaction, embedded computing, eScience, and technologies for education.

On stage with Bill Gates this year during the “open dialog” to begin the Summit was Princeton University dean of engineering, Maria Klawe. During the dialog, Klawe asked Gates

So why do you think the government should be spending money on computer science research in tough economic times? What does the public get out of federal funding for research?

To which Gates replied

Well, I think the payoff, if there’s any place you can say there’s been a dramatic payoff, it’s in computer science. The United States in the 1980s was viewed as falling behind, Japan had a better industrial model, the U.S. just was going to lose industry after industry; and yet what really happened in the 1990s was that our economy created more jobs, new companies, lots of amazing leadership things happened. And I think you can really point to the DOD and NSF money that went into computer science work as being one of the key elements that allowed us to turn what was a period where people thought we were falling behind into preparation for one of the greatest success periods the country has ever had.

This is only an excerpt from 45 minutes of dialog between the two. The Gates’ quote above is only part of his response. You can see a complete transcript of their dialog, including the rest of his reply here.

What’s next for digital libraries?

Monday, July 18th, 2005

The latest issue of D-Lib Magazine has an interesting commentary on the future of digital libraries by Clifford Lynch, Executive Director of the Coalition for Networked Information. Tracing the evolution of digital libraries since the 1960s, his article examines some of the more recent accomplishments and concludes with a list of some of the more interesting issues facing digital library research. Digital libraries play an integral role in cyberinfrastructure but are often underemphasized compared to more glamorous components such as supercomputers and fast networks.

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