Kind of amazing that the inventor of algol and bnf wrote this book. Such unconventional, critical thinking from someone who set the conventions.

Funny how Peter Naur's work is hardly referenced when he's pointing out that we can't understand each other and programming languages aren't languages.. and yet Seymour Papert's work is celebrated when he's all programmers are geniuses, teachers are rubbish and everyone should think like us. Why would that be?


@yaxu that’s a very different reading of Papert, especially Mindstorms.

My understanding of his perspective, at least at that time is more like:

- Computer culture, from programming/engineering, is broken (gatekeeping, very hard to learn, and anchored to specific notions of productivity). It also places the computer in society as a specific type of machine, losing sight of its more generalized potential.

- We need a new concept of computer culture, and not just one, but many computer cultures. It should be based on humanist principles and make it easy for build to conceptualize their own transitional objects—things that make the computer a companion for people’s thinking and creativity rather than strictly a tool.

- LOGO/Turtle was his attempt at something like that, specifically in the context of education since until then computers were very hard to teach, and teachers were not equipped or trained to teach them.

- He specifically says that this is just one example of another way to think about computers, culture, and human-computer relationships. It is not, and should not, be the only one.

I really like this perspective and find that it moves away from programming specific goals, and more towards how to imagine computers differently in society.

@yaxu that Naur book looks really interesting, and I haven’t read it. I have come across his ideas in other places. Much of the description of the book seems to fit with Papert’s notions in Mindstorms… that knowing/knowledge is about habits and actions in the world, that language is both descriptive and active… maybe they come to very different conclusions, so i’ll have to read it to find out :)

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