Tuesday, February 09, 2010

In Hot Water

Jeremy Douglass of the Critical Code Studies working group is offering an interesting series of readings of the computer code related to climate models that demonstrate global warming at work in the so-called "Climategate" scandal involving leaked e-mail messages exchanged among scientists, which I have written about here before.

This tutorial from Michael Suede supposedly on reading comments in code encourages climate skeptics to hit pause on their online video players in order to carefully peruse the evidence that the speaker presents. Because programming is often a collaborative activity, it is suprising to see that the author of these comments used so much profanity and personal attitude in his expressions in the genre. In the classes on programming that I've taken, NPOV is emphasized in composing comments or a winking friendliness to the next programmer who might tackle a tricky section that might seem somewhat opaque.

However, as Douglass points out, not all would agree with Suede's reading or another reading of the code as dubious by the BBC. The following videos present a much more generous reading of the code practices involved in developing the software used by climate scientists, which -- according to Douglass -- "argues for a different interpretation of the 'climategate' source code based on a critique of interpretive rhetoric (e.g. ad hominem interpretation), an appeal to understanding of the culture of personality among software engineers, and the contextually specific meaning of the word 'integrity' and what it signifies in the context of 'data integrity' about the software and data."

This shows the productivity of this start-up group, which leader Mark Marino notes already has 97 members, 15 code critiques, over 80 bibliographic entries: 80+ entries, and 67 comments generated in response to the first week's presentation.

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Blogger Jardinero1 said...

This piece is a more fundamental, non-semiotics, reading on scientific paper source code. It deals with the more basic issue of not how you interpret code but getting to see the code in the first place. The unwillingness to release data or source code was the fundamental failing of the CRU.


10:31 AM  

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