Building Novel Software: the Researcher and the Market-place.
In: Milner, R. and Wand, I., eds.
Computing Tomorrow: Future Directions in Computer Science.
Cambridge University Press, pp. 21-32.
(Full text available)
Much of the software we use today arose from new ideas that emanated from researchers at universities or at industrial research laboratories such as Xerox PARC. Researchers who are concerned with building novel software are usually keen to get their creations out into the field as soon as possible. This is partly because they may get extra brownie points from their research sponsors, but, perhaps more importantly, because usage in the field often leads to new insights, which in turn result in the next step forward for the research. Nevertheless, building something that people will use means making big sacrifices in the research aims. In particular the prime quality of any research, novelty, must be kept in check. My work for the past decade has been in on-line documents, a topic that is fairly close to the market-place. I will relate some experiences of the trade-offs between research aims and the market-place, and put this in the context of the future lines of development of the subject.
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