Reading: “Personal Dynamic Media” by Alan Kay and Adele Goldberg. Computer 10(3):31-41. March 1977. Available as a sample chapter from the New Media Reader.
Here, Kay and Goldberg describe the potential of their Dynabook to influence the lives of any person as a creative and educational outlet. I am impressed that they have users from a range of ages and expertise levels, from children to professional animators and musicians. In the late 60s, they began to study how children interact with technology:
At that time we became interested in focusing on children as our “user community.” We were greatly encouraged by the Bolt Beranek and Newman/MIT Logo work that uses a robot turtle that draws on paper, a CRT version of the turtle, and a single music generator to get kids to program.
If you don’t know what Logo is, you are missing out. It is a programmable turtle icon that can move around a plane and draw lines according to pre-programmed instructions. I loved this guy in my childhood – in fact, I didn’t realize that I had ever programmed before college since this was more of a “game” than a “computer program.” Ed Price from Microsoft has a nice history of the Logo turtle.
Our task for the seminar was to share a nugget and/or app that fulfills Key and Goldberg’s predictions. I am amazed by how relevant many themes from this seminar remain. Just this week I read a blog post about Madeup, developed by Chris Johnson at University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. It is basically Logo for 3D printing. With a few simple commands, we can build blocks, tubes, and other shapes that can be printed on a 3D printer. Well, it’s not completely done yet – there are still 34 days to go for his Kickstarter campaign.