[self-interest] Self as a first language (was: Syntax is important - but)

Jecel Assumpcao Jr jecel at lsi.usp.br
Thu Sep 2 23:21:43 UTC 1999

Steve Dekorte wrote:
> Jecel Assumpcao Jr <jecel at lsi.usp.br> wrote:
> > But I think that most people who will be programming in 2004
> > don't know any computer languages at all today. For them, any
> > syntax will be obscure (maybe not hyperscript).
> That sort of thing is typically true of exponential growth.
> For example, the % of the population that is under the age where
> they know any language is increasing with time, but I don't think
> this increases the likelyhood of esperanto being adopted, regardless
> of the benifits of the langauge.

Very true! And a lot of people would debate the idea that the
number of programmers will grow exponentially. I think neither
that nor the language that is chosen to introduce people to
programming should be left to chance.

Esperanto has no chance as long as the kids learn from their
parents. So in 1994 I decided to be sneaky: I created Troy
(later renamed NeoLogo), which looked like Logo on the outside
(syntax and apparent semantics) but was really a dialect of
Self. I gave up on the idea when I saw how Logo was really being
used (not!) in schools :-(

So back to the "full Self". It needs cleaning up (like some of
the efforts in Squeak), it needs a fabulous book for first
time programmers (a few ideas in http://www.lsi.usp.br/~jecel/tut1.html)
so that it becomes worth starting out with Self even for people
who are thinking of moving on to other languages later (a role
Pascal had for many years) and the book must come with a CD-ROM
with a version of Self that runs very well on the machine the
buyer happens to have.

On the other side (pincer movement strategies work the best) a
neat machine for people who find Win98 too complex would be a
good idea. Nothing would be further from these people's minds
than programming a computer. But such a system could make the
barrier between using and programming invisible, and would
draw these people across the line without their noticing it ;-)

And what will we be doing tomorrow night? The same as always - try
to take over the world!

-- Jecel

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