Lessons from the past for “The Future of Programming”

Watch Bret Victor – The Future of Programming and then read his notes.

Bret Victor – The Future of Programming from Bret Victor on Vimeo.

In his notes there’s a link to a 1987 Alan Kay video in which Kay narrates footage of a demo Sketchpad around 4:14. It’s from 1962. Whoa.

My previous exposure to Victor came reading and later re-reading his Learnable Programming manifesto, which is radically practical and completely re-shaped my perception of how programming should work.

As someone who is basically self-taught in code, The Future of Programming video stands as similar shift in mindset for me. It also rekindled my interest in reading The Early History of Smalltalk by Kay (h/t Jeff Larson).

Update: Here’s the Hacker News comment thread

Code curiosity: Scala, AngularJS and staying up-to-date

The newsroom developer team, of which I am a former member, is using Scala for one of its new systems. So last night curiosity got the best of me — I don’t remember the precise reason — and I started reading a tutorial (the site is currently down; cached version here).

Then tonight I explored AngularJS after reading about one recent use for a collaborative writing system. That article also led me to read about Scala’s Play framework:

Although my day-to-day work doesn’t usually involve writing code anymore (or, if it does, it’s usually updating previously-built Django apps), my fascination with programming and coding concepts continues.

In this case, I’d previously heard of both Scala and AngularJS and briefly glanced at the latter’s site. But I didn’t know why exactly they were useful and how they’re distinguished from other tools. Now I do and that knowledge will help in my role as a project manager, teacher, presenter or if I roll up my sleeves and start a new code project for work.

Overall, just a good reminder to stay fresh and be aware of what tools are out there and what they do.

Bonus: While we’re at it, this little lesson reminds of a nugget from a 2010 post I wrote about computational thinking:

Learning different programming languages: On the bus back from Philly, I listened to a tech podcast on which Kevlin Henney, author of 97 Things Every Programmer Should know, asserted that programmers should learn other languages to inform and improve how they write their primary language. …

And why is that post fresh in my mind? Because of this:


Curiosity about how systems work, plus the notion of “journalism as hacking”

A random late-night thought and a few of the responses:

Ripe for discussion

Have you heard talk of “journalism as hacking?” (Not to be confused with journalists involved in hacking.) If so, please share links — or any thoughts — below!

Highlights from #asne news hacker (a.k.a. programmer-journalist) Twitter chat

I did a quick round-up of today’s #asnechat on news hackers. Enjoy!

Update: ASNE also Storified the chat.

Rushkoff challenges Gleick’s idea

Browsing my Google Reader on Sunday, I found a Q&A on Wired with Douglas Rushkoff discussing Program or be Programmed, a book I’d recommend to everyone.

Now before you leave because you don’t care about programming (you should care) or you think this will be too technical (it’s not), I need to clarify that the book is not so much about computer programming as it is about the more general concept of programming, plus understanding the biases of digital technology. As Rushkoff says, you either use the software or you are the software; you’re either the passenger or the driver, but not necessarily the mechanic. Continue reading Rushkoff challenges Gleick’s idea