Commission on Crystallographic Computing

Open Meetings

Computing Commission Open Meeting at the IUCr Geneva 2002 Congress

Monday, 12 August 2002 : 12.30-14.30

The Computing Commission of the International Union of Crystallography is dedicating the Open Meeting at the Congress in August in Geneva to the financial issues behind crystallographic software.

A small number of people representing commercial, governmental, educational and Professional Body interests have been approached as speakers.

Amongst the topics they might want to address are:

  1. Is there a problem emerging, or will ‘cultural evolution’ ensure survival of the best?
  2. How can Crystallographic Software be financed and maintained?
  3. What role should government (EPSRC,CNR,CNRS,NSF etc) play in software projects?
  4. Who should 'own' academic software, and what provisions be made for its maintenance?
  5. What should companies do with software which becomes unprofitable?
  6. What is the future for academic software - is most of it 'lost' once the student/postdoc leaves?
  7. Is there a growing risk of us loosing ‘software diversity’?
  8. Is software moving towards ‘the best possible’, or ‘the lowest acceptable’ level?
  9. Is it worth preserving legacy software, and if so, who should pay?

This list is not comprehensive - there is no strategy evolving which can optimize the needs of funding agencies, educational and government research, commercial enterprises and individuals. The role of computers in research is now clearly evident, but there is no good model to explain who is going to pay for the software to run on them.

It may be evident from this note that my own vision of the future is rather pessimistic - it would be good to have some optimistic analyses!

David Watkin
Chairman, IUCr Computing Commissio

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