Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Halls of Academia

I'm a graduate, but it was out of a sense of necessity rather than purely for the love of studying for its own sake. In my opinion, all a degree says about a person is that they have the ability to withstand extreme boredom for three or four years, which means they are perfectly suited to the world of work.

If they have progressed to PhD level, that also illustrates they are good at playing political games too, as participation in such a course requires working for long periods with higher levels of academic staff noted for their bizarre and capricious natures.

Back when I was in college we read a fair number of bullshit academic papers as you'd expect ("the literature"). The best stuff was written by people like Dijkstra and Brooks back in the 60s and 70s - you know the kind of stuff, "GOTOs considered harmful", "The Mythical Man Month".

As Computing Science progressed, all the low hanging fruit in terms of research topics got picked, at the same time as more and more students flooded in looking for research topics. Therefore, the papers got more and more bizarre and esoteric.

To write a successful paper, you have to know what's fashionable at the moment. Most of the papers I wrote back in college had the key phrase ".... may be represented by a directed graph ...." which was required to pass muster with the professors. As long as you know what's "cool" at the moment, you'll be fine, as with so many papers to grade, they just allocate marks for the buzzwords.

So anyway I saw on Slashdot today that a group of CS students wrote a program to actually generate research papers. What's more one of the papers, "Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy", was actually accepted for WMSCI 2005. Another randomly generated paper was rejected via email: "....Thank you for your comments. We think we understand your perspective and we definitely respect your opinion. As you know there are more perspectives and opinions on this issue...."
This shit is too funny. Makes the new economy bullshit generator seem like child's play.

I heard a rumor that a similar research paper engine supports the same idea when applied to papers on postmodernism. Yes, you too can script your own Sokal Hoax!

But think of the fun you could have, putting in authors into such an engine for papers... I had some ideas:

AUTHOR1:Milton Friedman
AUTHOR2:Andrea Dworkin

... you get the picture. Only a matter of time before we can put academia out of work with this!
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