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

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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 i dunno if totally related, but this sorta ties in to various vague thoughts i've had floating in my head?

nothing terribly deep or well explored, but like how some programming languages gain reputation (and persistence) for being closer to how a "computer manages memory" or "closer to the bare metal" and the merits (or lack of) that may have in this day and age in terms of human usability, or how some PLs gets the reputation of being difficult,.. then some languages being dismissed as being "not real programming languages" and what even are programming languages and what is "programming" and also i guess the notion of higher- vs lower-level languages in general. and to spin off these vaguely-connected concepts even more, concepts of computer literacy vs everybody should learn how to code (and what even does that mean and does everybody really need to learn how to code, what does it do for them, and what does that mean in terms of PLs) and perhaps the role of "creative coding" (whatever that means) in terms of computer literacy and getting people to code,...

sorry, haven't really bothered to organize these thoughts or delve in them too deeply (but maybe i should) and maybe this book would be relevant to these thoughts

@mrufrufin Heh yes C has a reputation for being 'close to the metal', but for historical reasons the metal it's close to is the PDP-11.. I like the concept of programming languages having a 'notional machine'

@mrufrufin I guess I'm in a strange place where I really enjoy coding but am also skeptical about the 'lets get kids coding' drive when the purpose of doing so isn't clear and arts education funds are being slashed. Lets get kids painting first?

@yaxu interesting! yeah, i was thinking of C, lol. I haven't heard of a notional machine before and I know next to nothing about the PDP-11 despite my past coding in C. I should keep an eye out for these things

i'm not sure if I actually like coding? I'm okay at it and I think being in a CS program is helping to strengthen the ties between what I want to do and what that means in terms of code, I think I like the ideas around/behind code more, like I like having built things that do things on their own, or I weirdly like automata and Turing machine things because I like the idea of simple ideas coming together to do not-simple things, bu I'm not sure if I actually like the process itself

I'm about the age where ppl I've been to school with have little ones, i'm nowhere near that myself but I wonder if "creative coding" is a bit easier for parents than having to buy paints and paper and having to worry about paint getting everywhere vs plunking them in front of a computer, I suppose I grew up mb an equivalent of CC with a 386 and a paint program and getting to print out my various filled-in ovals on a dot-matrix...

@yaxu i wonder if tech literacy gets bungled up with getting kids to code? like does getting kids to learn how to code really help them negotiate the tech they will face in their future? and also I wonder if maybe the focus should be on making tech easier to use so kids don't have to learn how to code to be successful in the future? i suppose extra knowledge doesn't hurt, many cs things are pretty much just math/logic things and the cs approach to these things mb good exposure, and certainly learning how to use tools enabled by compute technology is enormously beneficial, but does learning how to code really get us there? my program has an "edtech" class and mb that will help me think about these things but that's about at least a year out as of now... hmm

@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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