Building a smarter computing culture in Fargo, ND
Kevin and I want to create a culture of smart computing, but what does that mean exactly?
From our conversations and our own readings, we’ve seen how computers have become an underutilized technology. We’ve read various perspectives on this issue, such as Alan Kay’s vision for the computer as an interactive interface versus the proprietary, finished product that it is now. Rushkoff among others (Kay, Carr, Stallman, Burgess, etc.) have argued how the GUIs and Googles of today package the computer as nothing more than a completed product that can be filled with more things, as we move along. In short, most of us don’t see it as “the anything machine,” serving as a blank sheet of paper for us to develop our own interface according to our own needs.
So, I believe the first step into seeing how the computer can be our own vehicle for learning and interacting with the world is to expose ourselves to the various types of opensource platforms and communities out there. Seeing how this digital world, so to speak, is constructed by people with different interests and different types of programming languages. I suppose it is the notion that we have more choices than we think. I think Sugar does this implicitly. Kids will at least be exposed to a different interface designed for them specifically, which also exposes them to elemental skills of coding. At the very least, it unveils what’s behind curtain number one: a bit-sized version of the code.
The second step, related to this project, is the actual interaction with that code. Tinkering seems to be the way to go. Developers themselves seems to learn languages as they need it and have the support systems in place to get the work done. Sugar is built to make the same moves.
Third step is, for me, kinda fuzzy. I’m not sure how this will play out. It largely depends on what Annette Vee points out in her dissertation: the infrastructures already in place and developing to support the wanna be tinkerers. Hopefully, we can develop this as the summer moves on (and rather quickly, I might add). I think one of the most important things that I have learned from this project is that you can’t force feed this kind of stuff. Alan Kay is a testament to this, since he’s been waiting quite awhile for anything remotely liek this to come along and be supported by the institutions at large.