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Reflections on ACM1

Empty: Do Not Destroy This is me after the ACM1 conference. After four straight days of demoing and talking, I was pretty empty!

I had the good fortune of helping out the Squeak Team by demoing how GaTech is using Squeak at the University level. I mainly demoed Audio Explorer and Squeak/E-toy. Several members of Squeak Central gave talks during the day. John talked about StarSqueak (a port of *Logo to Squeak) and sound support. Ted Kaehler had an awesome active essay on evolution using the new scripting capabilities of Squeak. BJ and Naala gave great overviews how they were using E-toys in elementary and middle school, respectively. I don't remember other demos, except that Dan and Scott did E-toy demos. Us GaTechers (Lex, Colleen, and I) talked a bit about Cs2340 and Swikis. There wasn't much attendance, but it worked.

Alan's keynote

It was very cool; I need to be able to give talks like that. Squeak is great for giving talks, because you can really demonstrate your ideas and not just state them.

The good take-aways were these:
  • We need Montessori toys for this century.
  • Human evolution has not prepared us to deal well with the problems of this world. Hopefully, with technology and science, we will be able to empower today's children to be smarter than today's leaders. You cannot solve this problem with only pink-plane improvement.
  • (Kay's 3rd principle) If you have a bad idea, take a nap instead of acting on it.

I have to disagree with Alan on the "the computer revolution has not happened yet" point; or maybe I'm not really disagreeing. If Thomas Paine's Common Sense was an artifact of the printing-press revolution, then there are already several artifacts that computing has produced that are revolutionary. The first is GNU/Linux. If we believe that "only engineers create wealth and the rest only move it about," then GNU/Linux is a cry for liberation for engineers from the others. The second is Napster. Though in the end, Napster will probably be just a footnote in computing history, it and future programs like it will fundamentally change the way government works today. Copyright laws will have to be reexamined. Business practices will have to be changed. If that change is what Alan is referring to with "revolution," then it hasn't happened yet. But, we are already seeing the beginning, the first stones thrown in the computing revolution.

Bill Buxton spoke after Alan. I thought many of his points were fundamentally flawed.

Some personal take-aways...

First, several people really dug Audio Explorer. It was really nice getting to demo to people who had the background to understand what was going on and give me feedback. Don Lewis was amazed. Doreen Nelson said that Architecture is frozen music. Cool.

Second, learning is identity. The learning problem (how do you get people to learn things) is also at least 80% about identity.

In the future...

  • If my computer can talk to your computer, why would it talk to me?
  • People's homes will not have roofs.
  • It will be black and strobe lights will be flashing.
  • People will say " know this was done better THIRTY years ago."
  • We will realize that the Drug War has already been won by the Drug Lords.