DCOG, Scratch->Snap

Did y’all know that Alan Kay (like a few other of our authors for this semester) is a Turing Award winner?! I got to see him and Hal Abelson at the computer science education conference in Raleigh a few years ago (2012).

Anyways, I like Alan Kay, and this reading. Some points:

  • (p. 2/394) They recognized an aspect of Human-Computer Interaction that was a bit before its time, “There should be no discernible pause between cause and effect,” and, “children really needed as much or more computing power than adults were willing to settle for when using a timesharing system,” and finally, “if the ‘medium is the message,’ then the message of low-bandwidth timesharing is ‘blah'”
    • even still today when designing and implementing new software, some may argue that details such as how quickly it responds to the user’s input are unimportant, but even more than 30 yrs ago, Kay and Goldberg new better.
  • (also p. 2/394) They argued for personal computers at a time when timesharing was the norm, and interestingly the pendulum is finally starting to swing back away from personal computing and towards timesharing again.
    • think “The Cloud”
  • (p. 3/395) “a pointing device called a ‘mouse'”
    • the pace of adoption of technologies was much slower than today, Engelbart demo’ed a working mouse in 1968, and still here in ’77 Kay has to explain his meaning. In contrast, a recent visitor to CS@VT (alumn Bo Begole, now of Samsung), explained that barely a year ago a team at Samsung decided on a design for a smart watch, the “Galaxy Gear” and it is already on the market!
  • (also p. 3/395) “Different Fonts create different moods…”
    • despite this understanding and the corresponding implementation on personal computers for years, it wasn’t until 2011 (at about 14 years of popular usage) that the web began to have custom font capability through (what’s now called) Google Fonts
  • throughout this and other related readings, I’ve been thinking about these works as the predecessors to DCOG
  • examples that have followed from Kay and Abelson’s interests in teaching computing to kids are abundant. See for example, SNAP
  • (p. 11/403) “… any owner could mold and channel its power to his own needs…”
    • is this possible today?
    • in Kay’s research the hardware, Operating system, programming language, and all applications were developed by the same research team…

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