MESSAGES FOR MISGUIDED POLITICIANS AND MANAGERS
(One of Aaron's proto-blogs)
13 Oct 2007:
academics should fight back against copy-editors and publishers.
sending me your messages in duplicate, i.e. in plain text (good) and
Why Computing Education has Failed
and How to Fix it
large monolithic government IT projects (like the UK NHS IT project) are
doomed to fail, and a proposal for an alternative way to aim for such
18 Apr 2006:
A brief explanation of why I now attach greater importance
to putting research papers (including discussion notes, presentations,
etc.) on the web than getting them into journals and conference
proceedings can be found
1 Mar 2006: It has just occurred to me that this page ought to have a
link to my
rant against sending messages in both text and html
(which is one of the reasons why people fall victim to phishing).
1 Mar 2006:
Two kinds of dangerous obesity -- one not yet fully appreciated
2 Feb 2006: Social groups can agree among themselves which topics are
taboo in their own discussions, but as soon as they start trying to tell
me what I can and cannot say, and what pictures I can and cannot produce
and publish, and what things I cannot laugh at, simply because they feel
offended by them, then they are turning into oppressive tyrants trying
to imprison the minds of other people, and they should be resisted at
all costs, as
some European newspapers are rightly doing.
People who are offended, should look the other way. They
can criticise me, laugh at me, jeer at me, insult me, predict eternal
damnation for me, as much as they like. That's their business and I have
no right to stop them, as long as they don't obstruct me going about my
Mind-binding is even worse than foot-binding
If a government tries to stop me saying what I think (e.g. that
all religions are foolish superstitions), in order to get the votes
of these tyrants of the mind, who bind the minds of their children as
some backward civilisations used to
bind the feet of their
children to stop them growing naturally, that government should
be opposed too. (Give "foot binding" to a search engine.)
16 Jan 2006: A company I once helped (a little) to come into being is
celebrating its 20th birthday, and invited party guests to recall some
history and predict some bit of the future. My prediction was
An even smaller proportion of people will know anything about programing
or designing anything, or thinking deeply and critically. Everything,
including ideas, will be designed, packaged, and sold by multi-national
corporations, ready for use, and unchangeable. This will follow the
previous de-skilling that occurred with mechanical then electrical
machines. Most humans are already and will continue on the route to
the Eloi of H.G.Wells' Time Machine.
Instead of eating them the
Morlocks will use them as economic pawns, held in check partly by
and dreams of becoming celebrities. Can [the
company] counter this by allowing, and even encouraging, people to
design their own tools, interfaces, functionality, etc.?
7 Jan 2006:
linux and security
7 Jan 2006:
Political correctness and religion as superstition
10 Dec 2005: Some thoughts on how to fund research
using a lottery mechanism
to reduce administrative waste, increase fairnes, and encourage deeper,
more adventurous, more varied research.
8 Dec 2005:
There was a powerful video clip of Harold Pinter reading his Nobel Prize
speech on BBC news last night. For
those who missed it the full video and full text is
(thanks to Ian Wright for drawing my attention to it). It includes a
gift to George W Bush - a short speech written for him to use free of
charge (search for 'God').
8 Dec 2005:
It's not only managers and politicians who get things wrong. I have
some notes on why 'Intelligent Design theory' should be
taught alongside evolutionary theory in schools -- helping students to
understand what science really is and is not, which even some scientists
12 October 2005:
Notes on academic freedom, including the freedom to be
disloyal. Sometimes the greatest loyalty requires what seems to be
disoloyalty. On the other hand, loyalty is a form of bias, which is
Some thoughts on league tables (and BBC's 'The Trap')
When universities start chasing one another by rebranding it's only the
marketing companies that win: academic staff, students and tax-payers
lose. For more on this see
what happened here.
There's good and bad elitism: anti-elitism usually fails to distinguish
as discussed here.
A country that tries to stop me saying what I believe merely because
it deeply offends people who believe something different,
is moving towards thought-control.
Someone who rigidly opposed contraception and who
compared abortion with the holocaust
can hardly be called a champion of freedom for the oppressed, even
if he was a pope and worshipped by millions of people who did not
see through his cloak of apparent goodness. There is more to life
than being given enough to eat: ask all the oppressed women around
the world, and people dying of aids. And there is certainly a lot to
life that should matter more than meeting the approval of your local
priest or pope.
Universities that ignore the provision of support for
student and staff services are probably turning away some of the most
adventurous and intelligent thinkers of the future, in addition to
Some of the reasons
(Things have moved on a lot since that document was written in 2003.
See, for example, the storm created by
the Asus EEE.)
Management based on the principle of maximising caution can strangle
universities. Some people in administrative/management/legal roles
in universities (and other organisations, including companies)
don't have the right balance between concern for legalities and concern
for the national and international obligations and functions of their
organisation -- so that acting on their advice is shooting oneself in
Universities that claim to encourage debate and adventurous thinking,
then act so as to stifle it,
shoot themselves in the foot.
(As in this example.)
Making tenure, promotion, and other rewards for academics, depend on
frequent publication and grant-getting, produces a generation of
narrow-minded (but highly expert) academics who have had far too little
time to look beyond their noses.
Providing excellence is more important than providing choice.
Lynne Jones on
and her comments on
The Education White
'Choice is ruining education' in The Sunday Times Online (March
Cooperation between public service organisations can produce far better
results than competition --- but it requires outstanding senior
Use of 'objective' performance measures causes effort to be diverted
to improving measures rather than improving performance.
Requiring every educational module to have rigidly defined 'aims and
objectives' denies students the opportunity to learn by exploring --
education is replaced by training.
Rewarding effort rather than achievement gives high grades
to the incompetent but earnest.
18 Mar 2004: COMMENT ON UNIVERSITY ACTION REGARDING WEB-SITES
Last updated: 13 Oct 2007