EWD on Industrial Software Products
Edsger W Dijkstra on why he would NOT teach his students to use “industrial”
(i.e. proprietary) products
At my former university it was a firm principle of the informatics group
that we would _not_ teach our students how to use industrial products.
The main reasons at the time were
• the quality of industrial products was never up to academic
• the market being as fickle as it is, the industrial product was of
volatile significance only.
Later I learned how much the purposes of the University and those of
industry can diverge. Universities, believe it or not, are interested in
education, but I learned of industries that were not interested in
education at all, neither in an educated work force, nor in an educated
customer base. On the contrary, they preferred a docile, brainwashed
work force and undemanding customers hooked on their products.
Points worth noting any time somebody wails “we must teach our students
about products from [Company X], because that’s what they’ll be using in the
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