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2007-02-28-r0mblesVisualize Context (requires Java Plug-in)
CREATED BY chris • LAST EDITED BY chris 3945 days AGO
"[r0ml]'s talk was humorous, engaging, thought provoking, and almost bizarre at times. [...] He challenged the thought of "computer literacy" being [the] "ability to work the applications on a computer". He also challenged the thought of "programming literacy" being "knowledge of 'the classic texts' of computer science such as [create SICP], [Kernighan] and Ritchie, Stevens (network programming), and Knuth". He proposed an analogy of programming literacy to prose literacy. If prose literacy is knowledge and familiarity with classic works of prose, so programming literacy is knowledge and familiarity with classic works of programming by way of the source code. Taking the analogy further, he proposed that our works of programming could (and maybe should) work more like works of literature. Why is it broken up into multiple files? Why do we spend as much time (sometimes more) writing spoken/written language explanations of what the code does rather than let the code speak for itself?"

What would such "classic works of programming" be? I spent some time recently paging through my old Oberon books; the original Oberon System had been designed from the outset so that it could be understood in its entirety by a single programmer within a reasonable time span.* I fear not many works of programming are.

On the other hand, I think that we're just starting to see the positive (learning, cross-pollination &c.) effects of large-scale source availability (thanks to Free [and free] software), a privilege essentially limited to the walled gardens of large software companies only 15 (or even 10) years ago.

In semi-related news, print is gonna be a function.

* And indeed, the system's source code is listed and elucidated in Project Oberon, which, along with several other Wirth & Co. classics, is now available online.


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