My contribution to recent comments/questions, etc. ("Gary Fisher" <>)

Michael Rueger michael at
Wed Mar 26 17:36:29 PST 2003

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From: "Gary Fisher" <gafisher at>
To: <squeakland at>
References: <7807A9C83D51004B82410A0147EDED2602754306 at tdsbex32>
Subject: Re: My contribution to recent comments/questions, etc.
Date: Sun, 23 Mar 2003 08:07:07 -0500
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Dear Sheine;

Books cannot contain knowledge; at best, they may contain information, but
in isolation even that is usually not reliably transmitted by a book.  The
dialog of Socrates and Phaedrus is relevant here -- how much better to
learn, to acquire knowledge, from someone who, like Socrates himself, could
present not just information but understanding.  And yet, most of us would
have no knowledge of that dialog had the information not been recorded in a

The learning of music follows a similar course.  I could read a thousand
scores, but without a living, knowledgeable (and patient) teacher the best I
could learn might be to mechanically and imperfectly reproduce the patterns
of sounds others have made, and that only on the most constraining of
instruments.  Written materials might impart sufficient information to play
a scale on a piano, for instance, but it is hard to imagine doing the same
on a violin without a violinist as a guide.  (To refer to the likely result
as a raucous Squeak might put me in danger of overextending my analogy.

Dialog with a fifth grader who understands (contains real knowledge of)
Squeak would be infinitely preferable to trying to apprehend that knowledge
with book in one hand and mouse in the other, but the world's supply of such
fifth graders, or of any knowledgeable teacher, with the time and patience
to sit at one's side and impart that knowledge is at this point still rather
limited.  Yet to simply fire up Squeak and dive in, while perhaps sufficient
for the highly motivated child, is just not productive for those of us whose
creative learning abilities have already been damaged.

Books such as those already mentioned are helpful in organizing the
information needed to develop a knowledge and understanding of Squeak; while
no substitute for practice and at best an imperfect adjunct to "live"
instruction, such books can at least help us over the real and imagined
hurdles until we know which questions to ask.  I very much look forward to
the upcoming books mentioned by Kim, especially with the knowledge the
authors will in all likelihood be available on one or more of the Squeak
lists to help turn some of that information into understanding.


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