[squeakland] criticism (was: Learnable Programming)

karl ramberg karlramberg at gmail.com
Mon Nov 12 15:15:07 EST 2012

On Mon, Nov 12, 2012 at 8:44 PM, Jecel Assumpcao Jr.
<jecel at merlintec.com> wrote:
> I have just watched the talk "It's Not You, It's Them: Why Programming
> Languages Are Hard To Teach" by Zed A. Shaw and he is very critical of
> Bret Victor's ideas, and also mentioned "Squeak Toys" and Scratch as
> examples of fallacies.
>> http://oredev.org/2012/sessions/its-not-you-its-them-why-programming-languages-are-hard-to-teach
> Though I disagree with nearly everything he says, it was still an
> interesting talk. I think that in many cases he subtly misunderstood
> some concepts. His complaint about the lack of formal studies, on the
> other hand, is entirely valid.
> An example of his misunderstanding: he shows Bret saying "if a
> programmer can't see something, then she can't understand it". Zed then
> complains about mixing text and drawings and using rectangles as a
> problem domain while the important things are concepts like "for". I am
> with Bret on this one: if a person can't "see" how a "for" works, they
> won't understand it. Most people who get good at programming as it is
> now can see it perfectly in their own heads. Having a visual
> representation animated on the screen will help the other people. Zed
> just ignored the first case of seeing and says the second case is a
> fallacy because "normal" people have trouble switching between
> linguistic and visual modes.
> -- Jecel
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> squeakland at squeakland.org
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I watched this also and found it interesting,

I have seen Bret Victors stuff and found them a little lacking in the
abstract side of programming.

Much of computing hard to show as graphic. Graphics is good up to a
certain limit where the
complexity in the graphics is as hard to grasp as the language
complexity in question.

>From my own experience I learned Basic almost 30 years ago typing in
listings from magazines.
I learned of 'for loops' etc but was confounded  by other programming
languages that did not
rely on line numbers and 'goto'.

I had a hard time learning Smalltalk later because I did not see where
the program was.
I did not understand how the program executed, and it was hard using
the tools because
they required a understanding of how the program worked. I was
intrigued by this system
that was so elusive and strangely powerful.
When I finally understood the basics it was very rewarding and I felt
I had accomplished something.

I do not think the general population will pursuit programming in it's
current form thought,
It is kind of like sudoku or cross word puzzles. It attracts a part of
the population.

The next big leap in computer use will probably entail a totally
different use of computers, where
the computer will be a full blown AI and the mulling of the computer
internals are of very little interest but for


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