Cooperation: VIS vs CSE
There was plenty of talk in Monday’s Vis 140 about open source, shareware, freeware, really sharing and collaboration in general. Tools like creative commons, which helps define intellectual property, processing, and open source artist tool, these amongst others evoked a positive notion concerning sharing and collaboration in the digital. I find this view point interesting and a stark contrast to the another department thoroughly engaged in the digital world: Computer Science and Engineering. Their attitude is almost completely counter intuitive to the notion of collaboration. There is one rule that has been stated to me time and time again while in CSE: You share, you fail. You cannot collaborate code, you cannot re-purpose code. You can’t event talk code to another student. What you CAN do is pantomime a concept and hope that it doesn’t get you in trouble or that the person that you are talking to finally gets it and you neither of you get sent to the academic integrity board. Everything is your own code, your own work. There is a strong notion of independence that is by no means optional. You are even policed by the tutors. Lab work there just feels oppressive to me as a whole. It is a stark contrast to the message I heard from the visual arts side.
I can understand the need to ensure that people actually learn material in the class but, this rule set goes beyond that. It actively discourages cooperation amongst students to a degree that normal facets of school life, such as study groups occur less frequently… if they occur at all. In my current CSE class, no one wants to study together and no one talks to each other, inside or outside labs. Maybe it changes higher up in the department but so far, the signs are less than encouraging.
I have encountered this attitude in professional programmers before, even in the study books for various programming languages. All code is proprietary and it is consider an egregious error to re-use, unless its in the book. I feels to me like they follow the old media conventions of copyright and trademark. Much like the record companies, movie makers, etc. Is this because programming is worth money in the business world while art is not(not reliably worth money)? Does that mean they will take over our collaborations and copyright them should they become profitable?