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Re: criticism (was: Learnable Programming)

Karl Ramberg
On Tue, Nov 13, 2012 at 3:30 AM, Jecel Assumpcao Jr.
<[hidden email]> wrote:

> Mark,
>> Jecel, you may be confounding two things:
>> - Having a mental model: "seeing" a FOR loop in one's mind.
>> - Seeing a visual representation of something like a FOR loop.
> That was my intention, which is why I used the same work for both cases
> rather than the more proper "imagining" for the first one.
>> There's some research in the Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center
>> (SILC, http://www.spatiallearning.org) that suggests that we encourage
>> more of the former by doing less of the latter.  A bad visual
>> representation can actually lead you astray.  Sketching and gesture may be
>> more effective at encouraging the development of internal representations.
> Very true, but what interests me is if these internal representations
> are always visual. For me they are, but Zed Shaw seems to think some
> people can think of how programs work in purely linguistic terms.
> Of course, an external visual representation can get in the way of an
> internal one. If you read a book and imagine how a given character looks
> and what they sound like, it can be very jarring to see the movie with
> an actor who is very different.
> So is the problem a matter of the teacher having a visual learning style
> and the student a non visual one or is it a matter of the teacher's
> visual style being different from the student's?
>> I blogged on Bret Victor's excellent essay here:
>> http://computinged.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/learnable-programming-thinking-
>> about-programming-languages-and-systems-in-a-new-way/  My concern is about
>> the things that aren't easily translated into a visual form, like user
>> input in the future and the Internet.
> But we are talking about the first lessons and in that case we can
> choose the domain. We can select games or turtle graphics instead of
> Fibonacci sequences. The visual stuff can be training wheels to be
> outgrown. Though I prefer to always have stuff as visual as possible -
> just compare the debugger in Self with the one in Squeak, for example.
> Karl wrote:
>> I have seen Bret Victors stuff and found them a little lacking in the
>> abstract side of programming.
>> Much of computing hard to show as graphic. Graphics is good up to a
>> certain limit where the complexity in the graphics is as hard to grasp
>> as the language complexity in question.
> What can't be understood as a graph due to that becoming too complex and
> yet can be understood in some other way? As I mentioned above, I am a
> purely visual person and am limited by that. If other people can really
> understand something as purely an equation or some other form and so can
> do stuff that I can't, then great! But I can only design languages and
> programming environment for people I know.

If you look at something like a Venn diagram it is quite easy to read
with 2 to 3
objects, but they get really hard to read when you get 5 or 6 it is
quite challenging.

I think much of visual presentation will show the same  problems in
that they don't scale.
Text will also show the same problems as complexity grows.

In Etoys it is hard to do scripting with many players and scripts.
I do not have any numbers but there is a limit of scripts/ players
that once crossed will
make the workflow suffer quite a bit.

Squeak also have this proliferation of browsers and other windows that
become hard to
keep track of after a few hours of work,

> The "people won't have to learn to program because of AI" idea was the
> motivation behind the Fifth Generation project. But you still will have
> to express your needs to the machine in some way. Spoken language can do
> a lot, but drawings sometimes help. And then the computer has to show
> the results.

This is true. But I do believe the way we interface with computers
today with programs,
mouse and windows will play a much smaller role in the future.
But true AI is quite far away. The little stuff that have been
achieved is just scratching the
surface of the real possibilities. What we do today will be looked
upon as people today look
at telegraph and Morse code.


> -- Jecel
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