It's not just string theory and computer graphics that seem to be going through some sort of midlife crisis these days. Another to add to the list: economics. After an interesting story in The Nation about exclusionism and heterodoxy in economics, several economists and onlookers have been discussing the issue on TPMCafe. I found it all a bit long and complicated, so if you come into this as uninformed as I, then this summary may be helpful.


I don't know if including computer graphics is quite right though. String theory appears to have an existential dilemma at its heart, and it appears roughly speaking that the economics problem is one of (apolitical) ideology. the graphics link refers to something far more mundane, I think, and even if the arguments were merited, it does not appear to have sparked any great angst in the community (although I've heard more and more about graphics folks being denied tenure: I wonder if that's related). Personally, as long as the discussion is constructive (and in the econ case, this appears to be so), I enjoy the occasional cannibalistic ritual :). I sometimes wish we had more of this in theoryCS, and especially in CG. I found this year's PC meeting to be quite interesting in that regard. -- Suresh
Re the graphics folks being denied tenure: there also seems to be (from my outside perspective) significant disagreement over whether SIGGRAPH is still relevant and important, the best of graphics today, or whether it has become too much a slave to its own fashions and lost sight of what's important in graphics. Not unlike certain debates we've seen about FOCS and STOC... The Ashikhmin "goodbye cruel world" message (and there used to be a forum there too, but it's been overrun by spammers) is merely a convenient marker, because it's public and by a former prominent member of the community, but it's not the only thing I've seen pointing to trouble in that community. And I think the tenure thing is related, too, but my view of that is even sketchier.