Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Is science just acronyms?

I've just spent the last 8 hours locked in a room with a bunch of computer scientists, mathematicians and geocomputational folk. I was acting as a dummy reviewer for a very large grant that is soon to have its mid-term review that will decide whether it gets continuation funding. Very interesting stuff. The kinds of computer models and visualization they can build and the types of processes they can simulate is mind boggling. For example, they showed one graphic that displayed in real-time text messages between locations across the planet. They are also very, very keen on acronyms – some of the ones I noted: LIDAR, PLS, CAM, DEM, GWR, 3DQ, KDE, PCA, MDS, ECQTG, GIS, WIFI, FDO, FME, DWG, CAD, SIFS, MSER, SOM, SBES, MBES, AMSE, LBS, and so on. These scientists are acronym mad; it’s a wonder that anyone can understand what they’re talking about (but then the social sciences are going this way as well). The graphics were nice though.


Margot Kinberg said...

Rob - As a linguist, I find acronyms very interesting. They are part of the jargon that separates those who belong to that specialized group, so to speak, from "the rest of us," and in some cases, they can be used to exclude people from that knowlege. Even if it's not done deliberately, acronmyms such as those are another kind of "digital divde."

Uriah Robinson said...

I could never understand all the acronyms when I was working, and now only remember two.

CCCD [possibly of Soviet origin as they apparently breed with now a CCHDS, CCCPHD, and ACCD] which was the Central Committee for Community Dentistry.

and the CPITN which stood for Community Periodontal Index Treatment Needs. We altered this one to CPITA Complete Pain In The ----. I won't finish as you have a family blog.