Okay, I’ve had a few days to reflect on the session on Software Engineering for the Planet that we ran at ICSE last week. First, I owe a very big thank you to everyone who helped – to Spencer for co-presenting and lots of follow up work; to my grad students, Jon, Alicia, Carolyn, and Jorge for rehearsing the material with me and suggesting many improvements, and for helping advertise and run the brainstorming session; and of course to everyone who attended and participated in the brainstorming for lots of energy, enthusiasm and positive ideas.

First action as a result of the session was to set up a google group, SE-for-the-planet, as a starting point for coordinating further conversations. I’ve posted the talk slides and brainstorming notes there. Feel free to join the group, and help us build the momentum.

Now, I’m contemplating a whole bunch of immediate action items. I welcome comments on these and any other ideas for immediate next steps:

  • Plan a follow up workshop at a major SE conference in the fall, and another at ICSE next year (waiting a full year was considered by everyone to be too slow).
  • I should give my part of the talk at U of T in the next few weeks, and we should film it and get it up on the web. 
  • Write a short white paper based on the talk, and fire it off to NSF and other funding agencies, to get funding for community building workshops
  • Write a short challenge statement, to which researchers can respond with project ideas to bring to the next workshop.
  • Write up a vision paper based on the talk for CACM and/or IEEE Software
  • Take the talk on the road (a la Al Gore), and offer to give it at any university that has a large software engineering research group (assuming I can come to terms with the increased personal carbon footprint 😉
  • Broaden the talk to a more general computer science audience and repeat most of the above steps.
  • Write a short book (pamphlet) on this, to be used to introduce the topic in undergraduate CS courses, such as computers and society, project courses, etc.

Phew, that will keep me busy for the rest of the week…

Oh, and I managed to post my ICSE photos at last.

1 Comment

  1. > assuming I can come to terms with the increased personal carbon footprint 😉

    Don’t. At least, don’t resign yourself to it completely. I don’t think any decision you can make these days about travel is a great one. Exposing your decision-making process and the discomfort it causes is probably healthy, and a great point of discussion.

    Other ideas:
    – Pitch your vision to people outside of computer science. Part of your message is very broad: “the situation is so urgent and complex we all have to get to work” and applies to everyone. Letting outsiders know the CS community is interested and what our capabilities are might be motivating (for everyone involved) and also help to make sure the SE/CS research stays grounded and relevant by connecting it up with real issues.
    (This idea may not really be an “immediate” next step).

    > Broaden the talk to a more general computer science audience and repeat most of the above steps.

    I like this point and the next. I wonder if it’d be helpful first to get a department-wide discussion going so that you can have people contribute their own ideas for “assets” from their research domains. This might also keep the talk from going too “meta” 😉

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