[OT] HyperCard and the Interactive Web

Graham Samuel livfoss at mac.com
Sun Feb 26 17:28:44 CST 2012

I'm (almost entirely) on Geoff's side with this. I am old enough to have worked on computers which wouldn't even boot up until some underpaid geek (me, sometimes) had put in a bootstrap program directly into the machine's RAM - this was done by flicking switches on a massive console. Output was to a teletype if we were lucky… programming was in a crude assembler and comments were distinctly an afterthought. Doubtless we were all heroic in our endeavours, but let's face it, productivity was microscopic compared with today's development environments.

I grabbed high level languages and then WIMP/GUIs with both hands, glad to leave geekdom behind. I love pretty well all the advances towards usability, productivity and clarity that have been made (at an enormous pace) throughout my long career. Hypercard and its successors and especially(for me) LiveCode fit into this line of progress (OK they may not be great for the vast teams that are apparently still needed for many commercial developments, but that's another discussion). I would say I am at least three orders of magnitude more productive now, within sight of the end of my technical life, than I was at the beginning. That may be a gross underestimate. So although I'm all for a solid grasp of first principles, I for one can't see the need for most kids to mess with empty machines and slide-rules. The really geeky ones will find their own way into the bit-twiddling world if that's what they want.

BTW, I am fond of slide-rules but I haven't used mine for a good long time now.


OnSun, 26 Feb 2012 11:18:27 -0600, Geoff Canyon <gcanyon at gmail.com> wrote:

> We're wandering a bit here, but I disagree completely, so of course I
> should reply ;-)
> Some 100 years ago, it was considered necessary to memorize log tables.
> That skill is now useless.
> I remember (near 50 here as well) learning how to derive a square root.
> That skill is also useless.
> I agree with you that "It is far more IMPORTANT that kids learn to think
> logically and coherently," but that doesn't at all mean that they learn a
> particular file structure, or machine UI. Kids today don't need to know
> what a command line is because the vast majority of them will never see one
> in their lives. Kids should learn how to think, but in the context of the
> environment they are/will operate in. A calculator is no more a crutch than
> is an automobile. People who drive (or fly) from New York to Los Angeles
> should not be first required to learn how to drive a horse and wagon across
> the country.
> On Sun, Feb 26, 2012 at 2:15 AM, Richmond <richmondmathewson at gmail.com>wrote:
>> Speaking as a reactionary 50 year old; I think:
>> 1. No child under the age of 14 should be allowed any mathematical crutch
>> apart from a slide-rule.
>> I find, in my "EFL" school, that kids find sliderules rather interesting,
>> and they are able to SEE how numbers
>> work; something one cannot do with a pocket calculator.
>> 2. At 14 children should all be given something like a Pentium 2 with
>> FreeDOS and taught
>>   how to navigate themselves around a system with no GUI.
>> 3. At 14 children should be given a course in something like BASIC or LISP
>> on that GUI-less computer.
>> 3.1. Probably preceded by a few weeks "doing programming" on paper, and
>> messing around with buttons in cups.
>> 4. At 17-18 children should all be given a PC with an operating system
>> with a WIMP-GUI on it after
>>   they have passed a test to demonstrate their familiarity with a
>> Terminal emulator.

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