Where do we debate computer science?

Both the web technologies space and myself are undergoing a fair bit of change right now.  I’m in college learning C++’s fundamentals which I missed, and picking up on concepts in computer science I never really worried about before (order N^2, order n log n, etc.).  People who are familiar with my blogging are also aware I like to understand best practices that are language agnostic (i.e. “each function should do only one core thing, and leave the rest to other functions”).  I can say I’ve learned a lot of what’s from talented Mozilla contributors, but not necessarily a lot of why’s (at a level higher than specific languages).

On the web technologies side, new capabilities are arriving in Mozilla code very rapidly (WebIDL, “DOM Bindings”, the new C++11 standard, Opus audio, direct proxies and hashtables in JavaScript) – so fast that I definitely haven’t been able to keep up.  There’s some very interesting stuff going on under the hood, and I’m beginning to think I won’t recognize a lot of that code in a couple years.

So I’m writing to ask the Web and the programming community at large (yes, bigger than just Mozilla) where we talk amongst each other about computer science as a practice – not about specific languages, but about why we do what we do.  Keep in mind I’m not referring to one-way conversations, where someone writes a blog entry (CodingHorror) or a Wikipedia article or a book (thanks, Code Simplicity, seriously), but more of a freeform discussion among professionals.  Sort of like an IRC channel (with politeness), or a newsgroup, or even a  meal at the local bar.

I’m experienced enough as a developer now to mentor others, but I recognize that I am not yet the Wise Bearded One.  (Nor will I be in December, thank you very much.)  I’d really love to find a place to hang out with other professionals in a free-form exchange of ideas.  Somewhere to step into the abstract without getting too technical.

Ideas welcome!