Jennifer Rexford, who I've mentioned before is a networking person who appreciates theory, gave me a rumor that she'll be giving a talk at STOC on "networking questions relevant to the theoretical CS community." I don't see the program up yet, but I hope it's true. She's a great speaker, with excellent perspective. Kudos to those who thought to invite her!!!
She also pointed me to an editorial she wrote on her ten favorite "practical theory" papers. Naturally, I enjoyed reading her perspective. Particularly since her perspective included my name (flattery, indeed, will you get you everywhere-- or at least on my blog).
I think, however, her editorial offers several lessons. Here's my top two. First, her notion of a theory paper is a little different than ours. Most of the papers are by networking people who think mathematically and theoretically (Varghese, Towsley) or more attuned to what I think of as EE theory. This first lesson is a reaffirmation of my long-standing notion that the FOCS/STOC view of theory is, in many respects, rather limited, especially to our peers outside of theory. I think a second related lesson goes to the importance of theory people getting out there and making their work more accessible to non-theorists. In my case, that has meant writing survey articles, giving talks for general audiences and not just theorists, and going to networking conferences to talk about my work. I'm sure there's plenty of other "mainstream theory" work that Jennifer and others from networking would greatly appreciate -- if only we as a community did a bit better job of letting them know about it.