My nephew has an ipad.

He asked his dad how to write games. His dad didn't know. His dad asked me how to write games on an iPad. I told him not to bother.

My nephew asked me how to learn to write games.

I gave him a raspberry pi and a copy of pico 8.

Now he writes computer games.

He couldn't do that on his iPad.

Hypercard would be a perfect fit for the iPad and iPhone.

Imagine it!

Imagine the things you could build.

But we aren't allowed to have computers that are fun to use, that are easy to build for, that are human centric, or human literate.

The last 10 years of development in computers were a mistake. Maybe longer.

Instead of making computers Do More, or making them Feel Faster, we've chased benchmarks, made them more reliant on remote servers, and made them less generally useful. We brought back the digital serfdom of the mainframe.

In the first episode of computer chronicles (youtube.com/watch?v=wpXnqBfgvP) the mainframe guy is real adamant about how mainframes are good and micros are bad.

The host, a microcomputer legend, disagrees pretty strongly.

Later, when they talk about the future of networking, the mainframe guy talks about it as a return to mainframes. The micro guy talks about BBSs, peer to peer networks.

The mainframe guys are winning.

(this is not to say that I think mainframes are bad. I don't. Mainframes can be really good and interesting! Plato was wonderful, as were some of the early unix mainframes.

But IBM style Mainframe culture is The Computer as a thing you Use but don't Control culture, and I am very against that.)

I have to step away for a while. I'll continue this later.

@ajroach42 I want to respond, elaborate, & discuss at length here. I spent about 10 months some years ago immersed in the computing literature around the history of debuggers, during which I went from EDSAC to Visual Studio, but also all the other half-dead ends ends of computing history such as, e.g., Lisp machines.

Naturally, I came out of it a Common Lisper, and also naturally, with Opinions about modern computing.

Up for the discussion? It could get wordy and over a few days. :)

@pnathan for sure.

I haven’t gotten in to lisp machines yet, but I’m always down for discussion.

@ajroach42 @pnathan
This thread is going to be gold :)
(I'm replying here so that I won't forget about it...)

@ciaby @pnathan I hope you enjoy! I'm looking forward to the discussion as well.

@ajroach42 @ciaby
OK, so, I'm about a decade older than you, Andrew: I taught myself QBasic in the mid 90s, got online late 90s, never really looked back.

First, I want to say this: older computer systems - considered as systems - were generally more capable.

But to be clear, they were limited in use for those who didn't take an interest in learning them. I'm talking about things that weren't Windows 3.1+.

@ajroach42 @ciaby This was the Great Debate that was largely won by Microsoft. "Everyone can 'use' a computer.". That is to say, everyone can operate the appliance with preinstalled software. *everyone*. Apple pioneered the notion, but it turns out to be the preferred mode for businesses, who really rather don't like having specialized experts.

@ajroach42 @ciaby It is my contention that Windows (& *nix) computer systems are designed to be administrated and managed by sysadmins, and the user experience in this case is great.

When you have sysadmins, there are no driver problems. There are no printer problems. There are no problems, as a matter of fact: it's all been taken care of by the admins.

This is exactly how executives like it.

Apple does the same, with their iPhone.

Apple is the sysadmin, metaphorically.

@pnathan @ciaby This is a good point, but I think it deserves scrutiny.

I am employed as a support engineer and a sysadmin, and I still run in to driver issues, printer issues, etc.

I take care of them, eventually, when I can.

But, even after doing this for 10 years, I still encounter problems that I can't solve (because there isn't a solution.)

but the metaphor of Apple as sysadmin, I'll accept. I disagree with someone else admining my phone, but that's another issue.

@ajroach42 @ciaby your users pay you so they don't have to care about sysadmin issues. their world is great!

@ajroach42 @ciaby I'm glossing over the 1% failures to get at the core point: sysadmins are designed into the windows and unix world so users can focus on their core competency.

@Shamar @pnathan @ciaby I never said people can't learn to program.

I'm saying that some people don't want to learn to program, and that what we call "programming" is needlessly difficult for some tasks, in the name of corporate profits.

@Shamar @ajroach42 @ciaby @pnathan

sorry for digging up this old thread, but I have one remark that's been on my mind since I saw your post:

I knew how to read and write when I was 4. I don't remember how I learned it, but I guess I wanted to learn it, or found it fun.
Are not all people like that? Do other people only learn to read when forced to at school?
Is there a correlation between programmers and people who learnt to read before school?

@Wolf480pl @Shamar @ajroach42 @ciaby @pnathan I don't remember learning to read either, but different people learn at different paces, and learning later has little correlation to academic performance. The main correlation is being forced to learn to read causing later lack of interest in reading.

@seanl @Shamar @ajroach42 @ciaby @pnathan
Yeah, seems to make sense.
I was forced to learn to calculate integrals, and I hate integrals, and I forgot them already.

@seanl @Shamar @ajroach42 @ciaby @pnathan
btw. doesn't the school system seem to you like it's designed to destroy curiosity in children?

@Wolf480pl @pnathan @ciaby @Shamar @seanl and to turn them in to obedient workers who don't ask questions, and accept ridiculous punishments as a matter of course.

@ajroach42 @seanl @Shamar @ciaby @pnathan
IOW, hackers are a danger to the state (or even society) ?

@ajroach42 @seanl @Shamar @ciaby @pnathan
OTOH, I've seen state money being spent to pic the best students and provide them with an individualized education path, so that'd mean the state actually wants to support hackers... weird...

@ajroach42 @seanl @Shamar @ciaby @pnathan
The incompetence part is IMO self-explanatory, so let's focus on malice.
Any ideas who and why doesn't want there to be many hackers?

@ajroach42 @seanl @Shamar @ciaby @pnathan
Or maybe let's consider the incompetence.
It surely is hard for a single person to keep 30 children occupied, let alone teach them something.

Would homeschooling be better? In the best case it probably would, but what about the average case and worst case? Would homeschooling-as-default reinforce the divide between the rich and the poor?

Or maybe we should go for master-and-padawan model, where you learn by helping someone do what you want to learn?

@Wolf480pl @pnathan @ciaby @Shamar @seanl this isn’t addressing the issue in any substantive way, unless you’re trying to bait someone in to saying we should abolish the education system for the good of education.

@seanl @Shamar @ciaby @pnathan @Wolf480pl (I do not mean to imply that that is your goal. Perhaps I should have phrased my standby differently.)

@Wolf480pl @pnathan @ciaby @Shamar @seanl the problem is underfunding and mismanagement.

That’s the problem everywhere, but especially in education.

@ajroach42 @Shamar @ciaby @pnathan @Wolf480pl Part of the problem is that bureaucracies are extremely bad at producing high performance when results are difficult to measure. This is how we get bad teachers who can't be fired, because the bureaucracy can only fire based on easily measurable things, and the unions won't allow measurement of even things that can be measured, often for good reasons.

@ajroach42 @Shamar @ciaby @pnathan @Wolf480pl And people who would be really good teachers often end up doing something else because they don't want to work in a system that sucks the life out of them.

There are bureaucracies that do a better job of educating than the average US school district. I'd submit that none of them do a great job of educating. Education really needs to be continuous and ambient.

@ajroach42 @Shamar @ciaby @pnathan @Wolf480pl Actually I think the way you get educated people is by having a culture that values learning. American culture does not, and that's why we have a shitty educational system. I don't see how you can fix the educational system without shifting the culture.

@seanl @ajroach42 @Shamar @ciaby @pnathan
Why do you assume we're talking about American (and by that you probably mean USian) culture and education system?

@Wolf480pl @ajroach42 @Shamar @ciaby @pnathan Well, Andrew is in the US. But I'm just talking about what I know. If your solution can't work for everyone what's the point?

@Wolf480pl @ajroach42 @Shamar @ciaby @pnathan Most arguments that point to European countries really boil down to "Well just have a smaller, substantially less diverse country that is less anti-intellectual and everything will be fine."

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@seanl @Wolf480pl @ajroach42 @ciaby @pnathan

Substantially less diversed countries in Europe? Who say this should come in Italy and travel it for a year: she will not interact two days with the same culture.

Where I live, while we all speak Italian more or less in the same way, each village has its own dialect (a sort of local language). At work at times we enumerate the different names we would use to say common things like rabbit or bread or unmarried girl or unmarried old man... LONG LIST!

@Shamar @seanl @ajroach42 @ciaby @pnathan
And you should come to Poland and notice that, except the mountains and the seashore, people are more or less the same everywhere.

@Shamar @pnathan @ciaby @Wolf480pl @seanl this has been a fun conversation, but I think I’m done talking about education for the time being.

Thank you to everyone who contributed, and also please drop me from subsequent replies.

@Shamar @Wolf480pl @ciaby @pnathan Italy is an interesting case being formed from a bunch of separate city-states, but the cultures that are there have typically been in their given regions for a long time, no? Even so, I think Italy has some of the same challenges as the US due to the diversity of cultures, and many of the same problems result.

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