Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mathematical Toyz

Projectile Motion in VPython
by Erik Thompson at Cal State

Calling it "progamming for everyone" ala CP4E and/or P4E may give the wrong picture, given cultural stereotypes.

TV people program, sequence our shows (lotsa loops on HBO). Go to the theater, many churches, and they hand you a program don't they. The calendar is a program, a web framework, serving events (meetings, holidays) -- ready or not a lot of the time (those wheels keep on turning).

You'll interact with our snake (Python), play with a deque, a chat bot, reach into the guts of our objects for methods (dot notation), but did you write any programs? Maybe, maybe not (sure, sometimes). We don't care that much, what you call something everybody does (dinks around? solves stuff?).

We're too busy learning about vectors and polyhedra in Vpython to care strongly if this is "computer programming" or not (what's that again?). We've got this philosophical model, a logic, of objects with attributes, and yes, it happens to be machine executable (a feature, not a bug).

We're playing with "toyz" (edgier than "toys" -- closer to real tools of the trade).

Or do we deny junior much access to toyz? Too dangerous to empower her or him with executive level skills. She might become a hacker, move to Portland, feed that open source revolution or whatever they call it. Can't have that. Must oppress, must deaden.

No Zome, no vZome, no magnetic MITEs, no StrangeAttractors, nothing much hands-on (certainly no GPS, no classes in how to use those school-issued PDAs), no YouTube... a conspiracy of idiocrats or simply obsolete programming?

Does it matter whom we blame? Only to the extent that this helps us solve the problem. Allow for upgrades (have faith), do the work, be attentive, experiment. These are some Quaker teachings as well.

:: stairway 2 by David Koski in vZome ::