Preparation & thoughts
- I think a lot of what has been said by many of you seems to point back to
Gregor Kiczales' Meta-Object Protocol. I havent read it, since I didn't
learn Lisp from my Mom, but in hearing him talk about it I get that the
key idea is that every language should have a panel on the side through
which it can be re-wired. Lisp and Smalltalk mainly allow this kind of
thing of course. This MOP permits a language to be more expressive in a
certain way as required by a given project, not necessarily forseen by
the language desinger.
Of course having such a tool would seem to put even more responsibility
on the programmer to "do the right thing". and would likely enable really
creative evil as well.
Coming back to positions on a reset of IT, I think that we need to go
beyond the "merely" technical and try to understand what kinds of things
get built and who decides and what the properties are and who gets
empowered and who dis"enfranchised" from the process. One key idea that
I'd like to explore is that in the future it may be our job to enable
others __NOT LIKE US__ to build creative software. Hypercard was a fair
early attempt. Even VB enables people of little technical ability to get
problems solved. Can we enable people of no technical ability to do the
same -- but people with a lot of domain knowledge?
RE the readings. If I'd read the first chapter of the Feyerabend book
early in my career I'd have been a better mathematician, I think. I had
a lot of good teachers who taught me a lot of fun mathematics, but they
didn't teach me what is is to actually DO mathematics. I spent far too
long thinking it was something like what happened in an advanced course
and only learned later that it is completely unlike that. I was in my
fifth year of grad study, for example, before anyone suggested I actually
DO math and tread on unexplored ground.
Why am I saying this? I think if we are to be successful we must step
away (far away) from what we know how to do--especially in technical
realms. What we seek is totally unlike what we know. One of the things
I've learned from Alexander is that every time we release a new program
we change the world. Do we understand the consequences of this?
Joseph Bergin, Professor
Pace University, Computer Science, One Pace Plaza, NY NY 10038