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Computer science is a grab bag of tenuously related areas thrown together by an accident of history, like Yugoslavia.

At one end you have people who are really mathematicians, but call what they're doing computer science so they can get DARPA grants.

But the people at either end, the hackers and the mathematicians, are not actually doing science. They happily set to work proving theorems like the other mathematicians over in the math department, and probably soon stop noticing that the building they work in says ``computer science'' on the outside. If what they're doing is called science, it makes them feel they ought to be acting scientific.

So instead of doing what they really want to do, which is to design beautiful software, hackers in universities and research labs feel they ought to be writing research papers. Hackers write cool software, and then write a paper about it, and the paper becomes a proxy for the achievement represented by the software. It's easy to drift away from building beautiful things toward building ugly things that make more suitable subjects for research papers.

In the middle you have people working on something like the natural history of computers-- studying the behavior of algorithms for routing data through networks, for example.

That's the other reason I don't like the name "computer science." Arguably the people in the middle are doing something like an experimental science.This kind of work is hard to convey in a research paper.So why do universities and research labs continue to judge hackers by publications?And there is no correlation, except possibly a negative one, between people's ability to recognize good design and their confidence that they can. Over time, beautiful things tend to thrive, and ugly things tend to get discarded.Unfortunately, the amounts of time involved can be longer than human lifetimes.

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