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United Kingdom Politics IT

British Computer Society Is Officially At Civil War 275

Posted by kdawson
from the band-of-brothers-with-maces dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A vote of no confidence against the current board of directors has erupted in what is possibly the first nerd war, raging throughout the British Computer Society. More financial- and spreadsheet-related fixations and less computer science have made a few members cross; plus they don't like the new name 'The Chartered Institute of IT.' Here are more specific details on the extraordinary emergency general meeting on July 1, where members will vote to decide the fate of the board of directors."
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British Computer Society Is Officially At Civil War

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  • by houghi (78078) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:14AM (#32508028)

    Officially at war would mean a deceleration of war. Even though the intend to use deadly weapons is not needed, it is to be expected. I doubt that that is the case, even without reading the articles.

    After reading them, it is clear that is is a bad use of the word war. In the linked article one talks about "a row" and the other talks about "concerns". Now I understand that the British are very good and underplaying, but calling a war a row or a concerns is even to cool for them.

    Even the fake war on drugs, terrorism and piracy is more of a war then this.

    Sure it is a headline catcher. But if people are not willing to read it if it isn't, you should not make it louder, you should consider not posting it at all. This is not (yet) Foxnews.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:28AM (#32508082)

    You mean the same way saying you're a level 70 Mage in world of warcraft is?

    I've been in IT in the UK for 20 years, I've never joined the BCS, never seen the point of it, and I've never been asked if I was a member by any interviewer or job agency.

    I got the impression it's more like a social club for people looking for other techies to go for a drink with.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:30AM (#32508092)

    When they introduced the Chartered status they automatically upgraded every member. Then the set the boundaries at a certain number of years experience, plus qualifications. Then they changed it to a framework whereby you had to have managed a certain number of people, and had a certain size budget. Then they changed it so that you had to have complete strategic accountability in a significant organisation. They're completely alienating a significant proportion of their members, who are technical professionals, not guys in boardrooms.

  • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:50AM (#32508194) Homepage

    Here's how it goes: Somebody has a great idea to form an association of some sort. Then, the idea of the actual association gets lost. Why? Narcissistic empathy-lacking morons are attracted to it because they can control the apparatus instead of deliver actual services. Then, the people who started the service get angry and fight back, and we get the situation we have here. Usually, the good guys lose and are forced to start their own splinter group. The new group never gets as big as the original because the original group has all the clout and relationships.

    I know a local "chamber of commerce" type organization. They spend all their time in committee meetings, electing general secretaries, and deciding who gets what title than actually promoting local business. Their association is a joke - it's obvious to everyone but them. To themselves, they're king ding-a-ling and they strut around like they're important people.

  • Re:Brilliant! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CrashandDie (1114135) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:51AM (#32508196)
    I did a quick course after the equivalent of high school. Mostly because I was bored, and my buddies were going that route.

    I'm one of those guys who's not particularly bad at math, but just sucks at the way it's being taught in school. Anyway, this is a course mostly directed towards students who completed electronics and electrotechnics degrees. Those degrees are aimed at people who have a "scientific" mind, but didn't score well enough in math and science in the previous years. Something for everyone, right?

    The first day of that degree, our math teacher informed us that most of us were going to fail math. Not because we were bad or stupid, not because we'd be smoking drugs and getting wasted every weekend, but quite simply because the stuff he'd be required by law to teach us was way out of our league, and that he expected almost half the class to be dumped by the end of the first semester.

    What he aimed for, was not for most of us to ace, he would be trying to get us to not fail too badly. Out of 24 students who started the course, 10 dropped out by the end of the first year, partly because they didn't like CS, but mostly because they were completely drowned in math and physics. Out of 10 students who got to the final exams in the end, 2 or 3 passed Math.

    The problem is that (in France), what the teacher has to teach the students is decided by some fat guys in suits who haven't seen nor remember what a student looks like for the past 20-30 years. They are stuck, getting insane requests from the industry, about 10 years too late, and trying to work out what might help. By the time the new stuff reaches the teachers and students, 15 or 20 years have passed. What you end up with are continuously deprecated degrees, where students come out, filled with hope and joy based on the lies their schools and teachers told them for the past few years, and are hit in the face during their first job interviews (if they ever get one) where they realise that nothing they've learned will be useful.

    Now, I got my degree, and most of friends did as well (only 1 didn't get it, as I recall, so 10%), but seriously, what's the point of giving uber-hard math, where kids just drop off and don't give a shit anymore, and doesn't stop them from getting their diploma in the end anyway? I went to maybe 3 math classes in my last year, and still got my diploma with flying colours. It's not about making it easier, it's about making it useful.
  • Bad Summary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dcollins (135727) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:54AM (#32508214) Homepage

    "More financial- and spreadsheet-related fixations and less computer science have made a few members cross"

    I've read all the links provided, I don't see anyone referring to this whatsoever. All of the discussion centers on whether BCS remains a member-driven professional group and charity, or a top-down corporately-structured business. To quote the second link in its big-font and boldface summary:

    Among the active members of the BCS, there are many dissatisfactions with how the Society is run; but when it comes specifically to why this EGM has been called, it all boils down to the issues of governance and probity. []

  • Re:Brilliant! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spad (470073) <[slashdot] [at] []> on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:10AM (#32508316) Homepage

    It's the misunderstanding de jour, at least in the UK, that the ideal situation is for everyone to be getting top marks in every exam they take - mostly due to bloody school league tables and the "everyone must go to uni" mentality. This does of course defeat the entire point of exams, which is to differentiate people based on their level of ability in a given field, to the extent that some universities are finding that *every* applicant for certain courses have 5 A's at A-Level and so deciding who to take is often a crap shoot. The (previous) government's brilliant solution to this issue? Add an A* grade at A-Level and carry on as normal.

  • by Another, completely (812244) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:39AM (#32508486)

    the various programming skills start at level 1 qualifications max out at level 6, while management skills start at level 5 and max out at level 10.

    Call me an out-of-place mathematician, but what's the difference between a scale from 5 - 10 and a scale from 1 - 6? They both have six levels. The fact that they re-use known symbols (sequential Arabic digits) to name those levels is just convenience. Numbering management with a minimum qualification level of 5 is consistent with standard assumptions about managers (that they don't know what a baseline is), so maybe the numbering system is really a subtle joke?

  • by wye43 (769759) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:49AM (#32508550)
    It's World War III, no wait ...
    It's Civil War, no wait ...
    It's only in UK, no wait ...
    It's only a society, no wait ...
    It's only some nerds, no wait ...

    It's nothing.
  • Re:Civil war? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:50AM (#32508564) Homepage

    It will never happen. Corporations DESPERATELY do not want IT to rise back to a "skilled" level where they have to pay premium wages for it again. They want IT to be the next Factory job where you get low wages and bad hours...

    Requirements = higher pay rates. And companies dont want that. They want IT people they can hire for $10-$13 an hour USD and keep them cheap. They dont want to hire a guy that is highly skilled and educated for $23.00 an hour and higher... Because he is hard to replace, while the MCSE kid that will take a paltry $11.00 an hour and think he hit he jackpot is very easy to replace.

    This is why you dont see companies demanding certifications and education levels... Because they will be forced to double pay rates. and they do not want to do that.

  • by arethuza (737069) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @08:01AM (#32508624)
    I seem to remember at least one society at University (I think it was the Economics Society or similar) that only existed so that the members could take turns holding various posts so they could put it on their CVs. I don't think they ever did anything other than hold meetings to decide who was going to do what for the next month.
  • Re:Civil war? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @08:06AM (#32508642)

    That must be the reason every mainland country in Europe associates "Brittish soccer fans" with the worst kind of hooligans?

    Sure, and the French go around with stripey T-shirts and wearing necklaces made of onion, while the Germans live on a diet of beer and 15 different kinds of sausage.

    Or maybe decades-old stereotypes that apply to a tiny fraction of the population aren't very helpful.

  • Re:Civil war? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xaxa (988988) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @08:13AM (#32508690)

    Oxford Street!

    At first I wondered why you chose a street, rather than a station, but presumably we're using the 1923 "Queen's Admiralty" rules?

    In that case, it's Chiswick High Road for me.

  • Re:Civil war? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TapeCutter (624760) * on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @08:15AM (#32508702) Journal
    Aussie, degree qualified developer, 20yrs experience - $US23.00 an hour is nowhere near enough to get me out of bed.
  • Re:Civil war? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jimicus (737525) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @09:17AM (#32509276)

    You're missing the point. The exact hourly rate isn't what the parent was getting at, the issue is that many businesses have listened to the old "Good, fast cheap - pick any two" adage and made their decision.

    It's "Fast and cheap".

  • Re:Civil war? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TapeCutter (624760) * on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @09:36AM (#32509518) Journal
    "Consider it your death bed then."

    Unlikely (unless you meant it literally).

    "Does anyone still use COBOL?"

    Of course they do, and their maintenance staff shit gold bricks.
  • Re:Civil war? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by luis_a_espinal (1810296) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @10:47AM (#32510344) Homepage

    Agreed. But corporations dont want you. They want dirt cheap mediocre labor.

    It's why instead of hiring a seasoned developer they outsource it for 1/5th your cost to another place and then live with the sub-par result.

    They might not want to but they end up having to concede and hire a seasoned developer to clean up the mess... or be stuck with a poorly written system with operational costs running high up (eating up any savings they were expected from off-shoring.)

    Doesn't matter what they want, when the rubber hits the road, they have no choice but to hire/re-hire skilled developers back. I've seen this happening in 15 years work. I've not seen any evidence to the contrary. It doesn't mean that right now there is no job shortage, but that's a function of the economy as a whole, and not of off-shoring.

    In the last 10 years I've worked with 5 different companies were off-shoring played a big rule. There was a lot of job shuffling, but not the catastrophic layoffs people attribute to off-shoring. And every off-shored project going south is simply another opportunity to step up to the plate and clean it up (hopefully as a consultant with paid O/T.). If you are dumb and can't take advantage of it, then yeah, you are at risk of getting the pink slip, but that's on you, not off-shoring or IT as a whole.

    The idea that companies can just get rid of skilled labor in favor off-shoring and getting away with it (and that such a thing becomes the status quo of the IT industry) is a fallacy.

    Companies think they can save a buck by firing their skilled staff in favor of off-shoring for a 1/5th of a price? Let them. Let them do it and burn as they almost inevitably do. In the meantime, you re-invent yourself in some other slice of the IT sector, cleaning up the mess left by a previous badly managed off-shore effort (and make a good, steady and technically-rewarding living out of it.)

  • Re:Brilliant! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CrashandDie (1114135) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @12:17PM (#32511866)

    the modern [...] education system [...] attempt[s] to provide broad-ranging bases of abstract knowledge to the students who actually want to learn, and are capable of doing so.

    (Editing mine)

    Sure. And there is are degrees for that. Math degrees. Physics degrees. Teaching abstract stuff is useless unless you explain, at some point, how those theories can be applied to real world situations.

    What you end up with are stupid problems where all the variables are given (or easily findable) in the context of the problem, and absolutely NO "education" of how to find the variables, nor anything else. What you end up with are kids (or young adults) who can probably work a Laplace transform with their eyes closed (90% of the transforms we had to work with were Z-transforms, in other words, ideal scenarios you will NEVER come across when measuring crap), but would never realise that they can use a Laplace transform (and the inverse to calculate the phase delay of a [insert something here].

    Current schools (and more specifically, current math and physics, at least in France), do not ask students to formulate questions, or the problems they have to solve themselves. Everything is spoon-fed. The "application of math processes to the world around us" is a sham, a complete utopia that very few teachers have been able to achieve, and sadly I've never met a single one.

    Dan Meyer summarises this exceptionally well. []

    • Lack of initiative: After finishing a lecture, immediately 5 hands go up; students asking to re-explain the whole thing at their desk.
    • Lack of perseverance
    • Lack of retention: Teachers have to re-explain concepts every 3 months or so. Once they've remembered the formula and aced 10 exercises, they think they store it, but really, the same memory spot gets used for whatever the teacher will explain next.
    • Aversion to word problems: Students are usually unable to explain how the problem is setup. They can't paraphrase, because they don't understand.
    • Eagerness to formula: Students just want to take their TI-5billion, store a small app that will spit out the result.

    The problem is that when students get fed bite-sized problems, that are solvable within 10 minutes (so that the teacher can do a handful in an hour), you completely kill the student's ability to think for longer than 10 minutes. And we do this again, and again, and again. What's even worse, the studies I was talking about in my previous post (GP), we received a "cheat sheet" that had all the formulas for the duration of the degree. Want to know what's even worse? The damn cheat sheet was provided during the exam. Don't believe me? Here is a copy [] of the exam paper I had a few years ago. Pages 8 'till 14 are standard formulas to help us. That's 6 pages in a 14 page exam.

    How do expect people to use the hardcore math they're being taught[1] in real life applications when you *never* ask them to find the variables themselves, *never* ask them "what would be interesting to know about this [insert object]?".

    [1]: I shall put aside for once the fact that is utterly ridiculous to try and teach the inner workings of Fourier and Laplace to guys who just got a degree in a branch because they failed math and physics. You don't need Fourier, Laplace and whatever we were taught in order to write java sockets. PS: I loved maths when I lived in Belgium. I participated in what is roughly the equivalent of spelling bee but for maths. Competition math, on a national level. When I moved to France, I started hating it with a passion. Coincidence? Racist maths? I think not. Stupid education system where theoretical knowledge trumps real-life application, yes sir.

"In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current." -- Thomas Jefferson