[FoRK] Advice From An Old Programmer

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Thu Jun 23 12:19:20 PDT 2011


On 6/22/11 5:59 PM, Noon Silk wrote:
> On Thu, Jun 23, 2011 at 10:36 AM, Jeremy Apthorp<nornagon at nornagon.net>  wrote:
>> On Thu, Jun 23, 2011 at 10:05 AM, Aaron Burt<aaron at bavariati.org>  wrote:
>>
>>> Teach every kid Processing.  Make them use it to teach Arduinos (or their
>>> cellphones) react to real-world stimuli.

Exactly.  I've been saying for about 20 years that every High School student should learn programming.  For a long time, that was 
necessarily shallow.  No more, it is possible to do it in a very rich way.  Although, it probably is even better as a autodidactic 
pursuit.  I'd like to get back to pushing on that soon.

>> Why does Joe Citizen need to know anything about programming?
>>
>> This is like insisting that everything would be better if every child
>> understood calculus, or psychology, or Shakespeare. Everyone has different
>> interests and different dispositions. While I agree that people should know
>> that programming is a* *thing they can possibly pursue, they needn't be
>> forced to do something they hate and will never use.
> Oh I don't know; that's what a lot of primary school is about. I
> certainly think that if the future becomes dominated by
> programming-assisted careers, learning programming that early could be
> useful. But I agree, certainly not everyone needs to know about it.
>
> But, the author sounded a bit like the implication was to keep
> programming "secret"; and not even educated other people, or tell
> colleagues, etc. I don't agree with that, at all.
>

Why did you get that idea?
I believe he was just saying that if you happened to reach the nirvana of being a programming god, don't for a minute allow anyone 
to put that down.  And understand that if they try, it is out of ignorance not any valid interpretation of the facts.

I don't recall anything suggesting that "we" keep "secrets" from spreading.  On the contrary, seeing the real value is the first 
step to widespread attraction.

That in the recent age of Visual Basic, COM objects, .Net runaround, Sharepoint "programming" cesspool, etc. that programming skills 
are only marginally useful with bulk investment is an old-fashioned, temporary, and quickly-being-displaced use of those skills.  
We're honing tools, environments, and the knowledge base quickly so that those skills will be more leverageable more quickly.  
Already, you can crank out a wide range of useful mobile apps with, relatively speaking, very little programming.

On the other hand, a number of stacks, including Java and possibly Ruby, are getting so thick and complex that they are begging for 
refactoring into streamlined language/stack/service environments.

Myself, I've been digging in a number of areas.  Right now, mastering the nuances of high speed animated rendering / motion / 
gesture event management, extreme multithreading / locking / queuing, etc. on Android.  It doesn't take a lot of code, just knowing 
the right strategies and architecture.

>> j

sdw
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