Monday, July 30, 2007

Pearson: progressive sounding leftist rhetoric has betrayed aboriginal people

Noel Pearson points out that progressive sounding "leftist" rhetoric originating from the tolerant middle classes is a cultural obstacle that aboriginal people have to overcome. Nice folks who want to do the right thing but who haven't thought deeply about the issues or are afraid to take a tough stand. In contrast, Pearson is a tough minded Leftist who can see through the wishy washy rhetoric and is prepared to unite with anyone who is prepared to take real take action in order to improve the situation of his people:
The middle-class producers of culture and ideology often see themselves as the Left. My texts have often been perceived as attacks on the Left. But I support key policies of the Left. In many areas, Aborigines can agree with the Left, including the people who have felt most hit by my criticism. I agree with them on land rights and conservation, trade unions, redistribution and the role of government in guaranteeing equitable health care and education.

The contention of mine that has caused most consternation when I have challenged the Left during the past eight years is that the result of progressive policies can be at odds with the good intentions that inspired them. My aim has been, as Dennis Glover wrote in The Australian yesterday, to "set higher standards for the Left" by critically examining the outcomes of ostensibly leftist policies. It is appropriate to set high standards because the Left's claim to the right to govern rests on its promise to lift the living standard and prospects of the lowest classes.

The challenge of education facing our children should be understood as a class challenge. There are strong class forces at work that are barriers to social advancement.

The main means by which class stratification is maintained and social progress impeded is not by direct and conscious oppressive behaviour by privileged classes. Rather, the forces of class operate culturally. They are embedded in the prevailing ideologies and intellectual currents, popular and niche cultures. Their effect is to cause confusion in the minds of lower-class people about social progress and how it may be achieved, and cause them to behave in ways that are contrary to their interests.

I developed a (provocative) rule of thumb when it comes to examining the nostrums and prescriptions of the middle-class culture producers, who often come from the progressive cultural Left: whatever they say our people should do, we should look at the opposite of what they say because that will usually be the right thing to do. Therefore:

* They say substance abuse is a health issue and should be approached with tolerance.

We say it is a behavioural and social order issue and we need to rebuild intolerance.

* They say education should be culturally appropriate.

We say this should not be an alibi for anti-intellectualism, romantic indigenism and a justification for substandard achievement.

* They say we should respect Aboriginal English as a real language.

We say we should speak our traditional languages and the Queen's English fluently.

* They say our people need to bedefended in a hostile criminal justice system.

We say we need more policing to restore law and order.

* They say our people are victims and must not be blamed.

We say our people are victimised but we are not victims.

* They say we have a right to passive welfare.

We say we do not have a right to dependency and, indeed, we have a greater right to take up a fair place in the real economy.

* They say economic integration is antithetical to our identity.

We say our culture cannot and will not survive as long as we live in the social dysfunction caused by economic dependency.

* They say poverty is our main problem.

We say passivity is our main problem because it prevents us from taking advantage of opportunities to get out of poverty and the resources we get are squandered.

The striking thing about this stark disagreement about what is really progressive is that we are at odds with so-called progressive thinking across vast tracts of policy.

For me it is not personal antagonism that explains the gulf between me and most national indigenous leaders and intelligentsia; it is this fundamental analytical and policy gulf about what is progress and what is not.

Glover is right when he says that I am a man of the Left because my fidelity is to the lot of the underclass, of whom my people are its most miserable members.

It is that I believe liberal and conservative policies have more to contribute to indigenous uplift than outdated progressive thinking.

It became clear to me that some elements of leftist ideology contribute to the barriers that keep our people down. The key to understanding this is to recognise the profound change in the role of leftist theory. When the theories of the Left were originally formulated, the Left was a revolutionary force. However, the Left has merged with power and government. Leftist ideology is integral to the political and intellectual structure of our society.

The challenge for the Left today is to stop assuming that leftist policy by definition is policy that will help the most oppressed. The most obvious example that this is not the case is the rise of a political and intellectual industry that explains, defends and facilitates behaviours that keep people in the underclass. A young Aborigine today who follows the conventional leftist recipes of the past four decades is destined to stay at the bottom of society.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Squeak: Open Personal Computing and Multimedia

draft of Squeak: Open Personal Computing and Multimedia

by Mark Guzdial, Kimberly Rose. Paperback - 544 pages 1st edition (June 15, 2001) Prentice Hall; ISBN: 0130280917

This post is a summary of the pdfs available from the above site, essentially a free download of an important book:

noel.pdf (39 pp)
Squeak for Non-Native Speakers by Noel Rappin
The goal of this chapter is to provide you with enough information about Squeak to understand the code samples and design principles in the later chapters, and allow you to experiment with it on your own – experimentation is a major part of the Squeak world view

steinmetz.pdf (34 pp)
Computers and Squeak as Environments for Learning by John Steinmetz
To promote more thoughtful discussion about computers and learning, and to provide some background before considering Squeak projects, this chapter will begin with general thoughts about children and computers.

Part 1 presents some assumptions and persistent misconceptions about computers and learning.

Part 2 presents their most common current use, simulating older media—such as words on paper or musical sound—while offering extra leverage for working in those media.

Part 3 considers brand new possibilities offered by computers, with entirely new ways to perceive and understand. Squeakers are developing tools, ideas, and genres to help these new media evolve (38 pp)
An Introduction to Morphic: The Squeak User Interface Framework by John Maloney
Morphic is a user interface framework that makes it easy and fun to build lively interactive user interfaces. Morphic handles most of the drudgery of display updating, event dispatching, drag and drop, animation, and automatic layout, thus freeing the programmer to focus on design instead of mechanics

pierce-final.pdf (24 pp)
Alice in a Squeak Wonderland by Jeff Pierce
This chapter is an introduction to Squeak Alice, an authoring tool for building interactive 3D worlds in Squeak

mathmorphs.pdf (42 pp)
MathMorphs: An Environment for Learning and Doing Math
Luciano Notarfrancesco and Leandro Caniglia
What if mathematicians had a place to keep all their living objects? Not a planar place, but a multidimensional one, with an unlimited capacity to hold things inside. A space with colors and movement.

andres 2.pdf (40pp)
Extending MathMorphs with Function Plotting by Andrés Valloud
This chapter describes how to plot mathematical functions in Squeak. It covers and shows the objects involved and how to present the results in Morphic using the MorphicWrappers. It is aimed at Squeakers who desire to develop objects with rich graphic representations

formatted-btf-once-more.pdf (12 pp)
Back to the Future Once More by Dan Ingalls
The purpose of this chapter is to update the paper “Back to the Future – The Story of Squeak, a Practical Smalltalk Written in Itself” (hereinafter simply “BTF”).
1. Introduction 2. The Evolution of Squeak 3. The Interpreter 4. The Object Memory 5. Storage Management 6. BitBlt and WarpBlt 7. Smalltalk to C Translation 8. Sound 9. Code Size and Memory Footprint 10. Performance and Optimization 11. The Squeak Community 12. Future Work

greenberg.pdf (31 pp)
Extending the Squeak Virtual Machine by Andrew C Greenberg
  • Why Extend Squeak?
  • Speaking Slang (a subset of Smalltalk)
  • The Shape of a Smalltalk Object
  • The Anatomy of a Named Primitive
  • The Mechanics of Building a Plugin
Rowledge-Final.pdf (26 pp)
A Tour of the Squeak Object Engine by Tim Rowledge
This chapter will explain the design and operation of the Squeak Object Engine. The term Object Engine is a useful phrase that encompasses both the Smalltalk low-level system code (such as the Context and Process classes) and the Virtual Machine. We will discuss what a Virtual Machine (VM) is, how it works, what it does for Squeak programmers and users, and how the Squeak VM might develop in the future.

parsia 2.pdf (13 pp)
Networking Squeak by Bijan Parsia, Bolot Kerimbaev, Lex Spoon
There is a apparent split in the Squeak worldview between the intensely individualistic and the thoroughly social. Squeak itself aspires to be a complete personal computing environment (with the single user in both computational and intellectual control from top to bottom) and a tool for collaborative development, exploration, and experimentation. This conception is akin to the notion of a networked personal computer—neither a thin client dependent on the network and server, nor an isolated workstation, but a node among peers, server, client, and self-sufficient in turn, separable but connected. A Squeaker is not merely autonomous, but autokoenomous

porting-subfinal 2.pdf (57 pp)
Porting Squeak
Squeak must be one of the most ubiquitous programming languages to date. In addition to the original version for Mac OS, Squeak has been ported to a wide variety of very di erent platforms: most major avors of Unix, MacOS-X, several variations of Windows and Win/CE, OS/2, several \bare hard-ware" systems, and so on

shafer-final.pdf (15 pp)
The Future of Squeak by Dan Shafer
Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “Our destiny exercises its influence over us even when, as yet, we have not learned its nature; it is our future that lays down the law of our today.”

If ever there was a topic to which Nietzsche’s thought could be applied, it is Squeak. We have not yet learned the nature of the destiny of Squeak because it continues to unfold before our very eyes and because we are about the business of creating that destiny. Yet, to an extent not attained by other programming languages and environments, Squeak has always been about the future. Its future has in fact determined many of the ways it works and thinks today.

stpope_siren7.pdf (37 pp)
Music and Sound Processing in Squeak Using Siren by Stephen Travis Pope
The Siren system is a general-purpose music composition and production framework integrated with Squeak Smalltalk (1); it is a Smalltalk class library of about 320 classes (about 5000 methods) for building various music-and sound-related applications

xp.pdf (22 pp)
Embracing Change with Squeak: Extreme Programming by J. Sarkela, P. McDonough, D. Caster
The XP practices embody a set of heuristics for recognizing and adapting to change, for change is the only constant in XP. The XP process values learning as a basic skill for individuals and the team, as the tensions inherent in development stimulate evolutionary growth. In the XP view, setbacks and failures provide essential feedback on which the software development process thrives, where risk is something to be understood and managed, not merely avoided.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Squeak Etoys on the OLPC XO

Squeak Etoys on the OLPC XO
written by Alan Kay

This document is a first draft of a summary of Etoys on the One Laptop Per Child XO computer. It will undergo many changes in the next few months. The first official edition is expected by August 2007.

“Like-LOGO”: Scripting that is also mathematics, turtle as a vector
“Like-Hypercard”: WYSIWYG Page oriented UI & Media authoring for presentations, web content, etc.
“Like-Starlogo”: Massively parallel objects
“Like Squeak Smalltalk”: Everything is a dynamic object, multimedia, multiplatform, etc.

Aimed at a wide variety of users and levels of use
  • Is use by many children and adults around the world
  • Good for constructivist learning and teaching
  • Multilingual
  • Self contained and runs on many platforms
  • Both standalone and web-based
  • Integrated multimedia
  • Collaborative
  • Made from many integrated media objects
  • Authorable at all levels from end-user to expert

Etoys is
“Like Logo” – but with costumes, multimedia, etc.
“Like Starlogo” – but at all levels of scale
“Like Hypercard and Powerpoint” – but simpler and richer
“Like Smalltalk” – it is Squeak Smalltalk underneath
“Like itself” – it has special properties that are unique

Etoys was first tested with children in 1997, and has since spread around the world to be used by many children in cultural and language environments. Etoys is multilingual and has been successfully used in USA, Europe, South America, Japan, Korea, India, Nepal, and elsewhere.

The multilingualization is dynamic: languages can be switched on the fly (this can be lluminating for children) and there is a “kit” that aids the introduction of a new language.

Etoys is also “ecumenical”: it runs on more than 20 platforms bitidentically including all of the standard ones, many PDAs and SmartPhones, and on the OLPC XO machine.

Current Languages include:
English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Swahili

Languages in progress include:

Friday, July 27, 2007

conversation and expertise in a flat but wrinkled world

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken,
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children,
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin',
Heard ten thousand whisperin' and nobody listenin',
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin',
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter,
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley,
- Bob Dylan, A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
It's better that everyone has their own interactive medium and chaos reigns, than the alternative of Big Media or traditional School alone. If we want radical change in the media and education then there is no alternative but to go through chaos. “Web 2.0” won't change School dramatically if it doesn't also change society dramatically.

The technology that is popularly but problematically named web 2.0 is, unfortunately, also a trademarked O'Reilly marketing slogan. Paul Graham provides some clarity here in his interpretation of the phrase:
  1. Ajax - JavaScript works, eg. Google Maps, web based apps are getting better
  2. Democracy - amateurs can sometimes surpass professionals (wikipedia) and deciding what counts for news (reddit, delicious)
  3. Don't maltreat users - avoid heavy handed branding, signing up procedures, offer free services where possible
We don't have to use the phrase “web 2.0”; the read write web is a satisfactory, albeit less hip alternative.

The social optimists' hope for web 2.0 is that it is disruptive and corrosive to the hierarchical way of doing things, enabling the active participation and empowerment of those formerly known as the audience.

The pessimistic or realistic problem with web 2.0 is its tendency to overreach itself and the inevitable fact that as it grows (a new blog every second), the quality must decline.

My own blog was initially more intended as an easily searchable online notebook than anything else. I was initially surprised at the number of other people who read it and it took me a while to take the conversational aspect of it seriously. I've learnt a lot from some other bloggers (eg. artichoke) in the way they nurtured their comment threads – and eventually through thoughtful comments received on my own blog.

One possible downside to being noticed is that I might end up wanting to please those readers rather than representing my own thoughts (self censorship). The upside is that knowing there are readers persuades me to express my thoughts more clearly, partly for the readers' sake, but that is a huge benefit for me as well. There is positive pressure to make your thoughts clearer for a real audience, especially a critical audience who can respond.

But not all blogs or discussion groups are like this. Web 2.0 can also be a game that people learn to play in an attention seeking economy. Global village idiocy, banalisation, hive mind, self censorship and chasing popularity are all real problems.

I also need time alone to read books, for slow, deep thinking, for reflection, to get away from the business and shallowness of much of the web. Now I think it's more about exploring meanings, I never thought that meaning was so complicated but blogging has gradually changed me. If there is a real struggle to express ourselves more expertly through language then that recreates who we are.

However, the notion of using “web2.0″ tools to expand expertise (certainly possible) is different from the notion of bloggers already being experts. The internet has certainly blurred the lines between expert and amateur. But as well as some amateurs displaying expert knowledge there are also lots of amateurs pretending to be experts when they are not. For me the important question is not web 2.0 as such but how do we work out who an expert is? Expertise is special IMO and ought to be valued. I’m critical of theories that just emphasise the importance of connection without saying much else.

Paul Graham makes a point about Democracy. Amateurs can sometimes surpass professionals (wikipedia) and deciding what counts for news (reddit, delicious). Unlike blogs, the sites mentioned here have quality control mechanisms. Collectively, the blogosphere is doing the filtering for us. But of course these sites are still evolving, they have not solved the issue of expertise.

Computers and the internet do have a disruptive effect on School, Media and many of our ideas, including our idea of expertise. I think it is the disruptive potential that makes the system and some teachers (many follow the lead of the system) hesitant.

The bible writing monks were experts at all things involved in being a bible writing monk. But that didn’t make them experts in all things involving printing. I wonder how many made the transition?

So what is our notion of expertise? How do we recognise a powerful idea, how do we recognise an expert? For me, this is the question that the “web 2.0” movement needs to answer.

Alan Kay's remarks about our lack of computer science could also be applied to web 2.0:
"Computing spread out much, much faster than educating unsophisticated people can happen. In the last 25 years or so, we actually got something like a pop culture, similar to what happened when television came on the scene and some of its inventors thought it would be a way of getting Shakespeare to the masses. But they forgot that you have to be more sophisticated and have more perspective to understand Shakespeare. What television was able to do was to capture people as they were. So I think the lack of a real computer science today, and the lack of real software engineering today, is partly due to this pop culture."

The title includes a reference to Tom Friedman's well known book, The World is Flat. Thanks to durff for the insight that it is also wrinkled.

Web 2.0 Paul Graham analysis of Web 2.0

the comments contains a dialogue between artichoke and myself, which helped clarify some of my views

teachers are experts Comment I left at Graham Wegner's blog contradicting the thesis that teachers are experts

That's Hot - Web 2.0 and the Empty Vessel Sylvia Martinez, Web 2.0 is often little more than a marketing slogan

Ten Things Radical about the Weblog form of Journalism Jay Rosen
This reference and the next one draws attention to the fact that thoughtful commentators from the beginning have understood that blogs have both a radical and conservative nature

Ten Things Conservative About the Weblog Form in Journalism Jay Rosen

Debate between David Weinberger and Andrew Keen (video)
There is a great discussion, towards the end of this debate, about the nature of expertise. I liked Andrew Keen's approach about the historical importance of the nation state, democracy and authority, that it is a debate that we have to have, although I thought that the audience did very well in challenging Keen (eg. the guy from Canada, the guy from wikipedia), perhaps more so than David Weibberger did.

What are we going to say about 'Cult of the Amateur'
Clay Shirky went along to a forum to criticise Andrew Keen's book about “The Cult of the Amateur” but ended up saying that it made some valid points against some more one eyed blog evangelists

Andrew Keen: Rescuing 'Luddite' from the Luddites
A follow up more effective effort by Shirky to refute Keen

america discovers social class

yeh, it does seem difficult for americans to talk about social class

danah boyd has been brave and it has struck a nerve

Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace

Responding the responses to: Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace
This essay addressed one of America's most taboo topics: class. Due to personal circumstances, I wasn't online as things spun further and further out of control and I had neither the time nor the emotional energy to address all of the astounding misinterpretations that I saw as a digital game of telephone took hold. I've browsed the hundreds of emails, thousands of blog posts, and thousands of comments across the web. I'm in awe of the amount of time and energy people put into thinking through and critiquing my essay

Sunday, July 22, 2007

the image file, the virtual machine, bytecodes and more

Squeak files are different. As a newbie this was initially confusing for me and a potential barrier for uptake. But now it seems that they are different but better.

On the Windows version from Squeakland I have downloaded:
SqueakPlugin.image 12.5 MB
Squeak.exe 1.05 MB

On the Ubuntu linux version on the itshare laptop there is:
Squeak3.8.image 17.5 MB
SqueakV3.sources 13.9 MB
Squeak3.8.changes 13.6 MB
(I can't see the squeak-vm file?)

On the Ubuntu linux version on my older computer I have:
squeak-image_3.8.deb 11.1 MB
squeak-sources_3.deb 3.3 MB
squeak-vm.deb 0.5 MB


Smalltalk is its own development and runtime environment. Rather than executing programs on top of an underlying operating system layer which maintains file input-output and a file system, Smalltalk runs in an “image”—a single, live “file” that manages its own memory use, reads and writes itself to disk transparently when required, and which permanently maintains the entire state of the environment. It is this ‘live’ and persistent image which allows Smalltalk to be changeable “on the fly”—other languages require that one make changes to source code files and then recompile or re-run the files in order to make a change. (From Maxwell, p. 154)

Another explanation:
Most programming systems separate the program code from the program state. Program code is just text and can be stored in a text file. Program state is the exact place (a snapshot) of where the program has got to at a particular point of time. To store program state requires an image, an exact bit by bit description.

Smalltalk / Squeak is different from most other programming languages in that it does not separate code from state. It stores the entire application state in an image file.

(LISP is another programming language which also uses image based persistence. In the case of LISP the code is a form of data, once again the distinction between the code and the state is blurred)


A Virtual Machine is a software layer that provides us with a pretense of having a machine other than the actual hardware in use. Using one allows systems to run as if on hardware designed explicitly for them

An application is written for a virtual machine and can then operate on any platform or OS. How? The application is run on a computer using an interpreter of JIT (Just in Time) compilation


The image file consists of bytecodes, which is a highly compressed and optimized representation of the source code, but is not machine code (and therefore not tied to any particular hardware). Just-in-time compilation or JIT, refers to a technique where bytecode is compiled to native machine code at runtime. This technique was pioneered in Smalltalk in the 1980s.

The Squeakland educational version does not include the sources and changes files. But the full Squeak version does include sources and changes. These files are more important for developers.

The Sources file. This is where all the source code for Squeak is stored. However, the system can be operated without any source code, owing to its ability to decompile the bytecode methods into a readable and editable version of the original source code (only comments and temporary variable names are lost).

The Changes file. Everything that you do goes into the changes file as soon as you do it: Every DoIt, every new class, every new method. This means that if you crash Squeak, your work isn't lost. It's probably in the changes file. The changes file is just a text file -- you can copy out anything that you need to recover from. From the Desktop Menu, you also have access to several
changes utilities that let you look over your changes file and recover lost things. From the Desktop Menu, select Changes, then recent change log to find see all changes from every quit or save that you’ve executed.

Project files. My Etoys projects save as *.pr files, along with a gif image. Projects are used to capture and switch the entire display state. Therefore they store much of the state.

messages are different in Smalltalk

I'm having a look a Smalltalk / Squeak programming. It's promoted as object oriented (OOP) in a pure form, so my intuition is that if I can grok Smalltalk then that will deepen my understanding of OOP and how it is really meant to work.
Early Smalltalk was the first complete realization of these new points of view as parented by its many predecessors in hardware, language and user interface design. It became the exemplar of the new computing, in part, because we were actually trying for a qualitative shift in belief structures--a new Kuhnian paradigm in the same spirit as the invention of the printing press-and thus took highly extreme positions which almost forced these new styles to be invented
- Alan Kay, The Early History of Smalltalk
  • Everything is an object.
  • All computation is triggered through message sends. You send a message to an object, and something happens.
  • Almost all executable Smalltalk expressions are of the form <receiverobject> <message>.
  • Messages trigger methods where the mapping of message-to-methods is determined by the receiving object. Methods are the units of Smalltalk code.
  • - Chapter 2. A Tour of Squeak, in: Squeak: Object-Oriented Design with Multimedia Applications by Mark Guzdial
Understanding messages is crucial:
Kay has repeatedly expressed his regret that he chose the term “object-oriented” instead of the more relational concept of “message-oriented.” What is important about biological cells in Kay’s systems theory rendering of them isn’t what they’re made of, but rather their modes of interacting.
- Tracing the Dynabook by John Maxwell, p. 121

This first one is from Stephane Ducasse's book on learning squeak through programming robots and the others are from Mark Guzdial's book cited above. Comments are in "quotes".

| pica | "local variable declared"
pica := Bot new. "The new message is sent to the Bot class to create a new robot and associate with it the name pica (:= is for assignment)"
pica go: 100 "the colon (:) after go means that an argument is required. go: 100 is a message send to the robot object pica, which can also be described as the message receiver"

1 to: 10 do: [instruction block]

1 to: 10 do: [] is a message send to the object 1! The message to: do: is a message understood by the Integer class! 10 and the block of code (statements contained in square brackets) following do: are actually arguments in the message.

1 to: 10 do: [:i | Transcript show:(i printString), ' times'; cr]

do: evaluates the block, :i defines the index variable for the loop, the vertical bar separates the definition from the rest of the statement, printString sends a message to i, the Transcript is a separate window, the comma (,) means concatenate, the semi-colon is used to string statements together and cr stands for carriage return. The output to the Transcript window is:
1 times
2 times
3 times
4 times
5 times
6 times
7 times
8 times
9 times
10 times

anArray := Array new: 10. "create a new array with 10 places"
#(nil nil nil nil nil nil nil nil nil nil)

| aValue | "declare a variable"
aValue := 2.
Everything is an object. This rule does not actually mean "Set the value of 'aValue' to integer 2" but instead means "Set the variable aValue to point to an SmallInteger object whose value is 2."

1 to: 10 do: [:index | anArray at: index put: aValue*index ].

Transcript show: anArray

Output to Transcript window:
#(2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20)

This has given me some understanding of how messages are both important and different in Smalltalk.

Don't be too proud of web 2.0.

Web 2.0 has become the new conventional wisdom of those who see themselves as radical reformers of the education system. Flashing bells and lights, gee wizz. Web 2.0 dominates educational technology conferences just like logo used to dominate educational conferences (without being deeply understood) in the late 80s, early 90s. This is a new majority within a minority. Let's sit around and self righteously criticise other educators because we get it and they don't.

It's a double edged sword. We have enhanced powers of connection and collaboration, many wonderful new applications but also some are thinking that enhanced ability of connection is some sort of virtue in itself. Like spam. It's not. Connection without discernment leads to trivia. The 1000 monkeys hammering on the typewriter is a real part of web 2.0. In some ways Web 2.0 is like TV, mainly crap, with the occasional good programme. Yes, web 2.0 is interactive, I know, but that creates new problems as well as new opportunities.

Things I have noticed:
  • Global village idiocy, like the uncritical promotion by some of conspiracy theories of history on the TALO list (zeitgeist)
  • Language based mathematics as state of the art, with no apparent awareness that great ideas about teaching maths using logo has been around for many years - yes, web 2.0 can be great for language based learning but that's not the end of the story
  • Web 2.0 bloggers sounding off about how information has changed but then running for cover when asked to deepen their analysis (how has information changed?). What is the point of blogging if you are not prepared to deepen?
  • New theories such as connectivism which are not built on a sound analysis (a challenge to connectivism)
  • No historical awareness of some of the great educational software (eg. Smalltalk / Squeak / Etoys, logo, *logo (pronounced star logo) and hypercard) and educational theorists (eg. Papert, Harvey, Kay) that have been around for years.
Some prominent thinkers have pointed out that we could have had a better web, a network of message passing objects. Ted Nelson. Alan Kay. There are software issues as well as cultural issues to be explored here.

Don't be too proud of web 2.0.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

OLPC images by country

In preparing for my one laptop per child presentation at CEGSA (Computing Education Group of South Australia) this Thursday I did a google search of images of its use in different countries. Here are some of the images I found:







The Cape Experiment: The inside story of the radical welfare reforms on the Cape York Peninsula

The Cape Experiment: The inside story of the radical welfare reforms on the Cape York Peninsula

This was on ABC TV (Monday 16th July) last night and will be repeated today (Tuesday) at 11:35 am. Also, the full program will be online from today.

It puts a compelling case for the urgent need to end passive welfare dependency for indigenous Australians, which in some cases transforms itself into 4 day long grog fuelled parties, violence, child abuse and perpetuates dislocation from the real economy. This has been going on for years.

Noel Pearson emerges as a troubled, gutsy leader who as well as thinking through the blueprint for welfare reform has to deliver the bad news to his home town (HopeVale, 50km north of Cairns). He reflects on the personal angst this has caused him.

Friday, July 13, 2007

my CEGSA conference presentations

I've put up some notes, on the learningEvolves wiki, in preparation for CEGSA (Computer Education Group of South Australia) conference presentations, next week, about the One Laptop per Child and Alan Kay. CEGSA programme, abstracts.

One Laptop per Child
I'm fortunate in that Paul Schulz has agreed to assist me with the hardware part of the presentation

The One Laptop Per Child project plans to release millions of cheap laptops to developing countries over the next few years. This presentation will discuss the hardware, software and educational goals of the OLPC Project.

Alan Kay's Educational Vision
Alan Kay, winner of the 2004 Turing award, invented the first object orientated programming language, Smalltalk. His educational vision, developed over 30 years, has not received as much attention but is just as interesting. This presentation will describe that vision.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

kidney tumour removed

I've been away for 12 days, in hospital having my kidney tumour (and left kidney) removed.

The first 3 days were to restore my blood to normal, since I was on blood thinners for an earlier pulmonary embolism (blood clots in pulmonary artery). This require a heparin drip, since heparin blood thinning is reversible within a few hours.

I had my operation on Tuesday 3rd July. I was unconscious from 8:30am to 3pm. The surgeons told me that it was a very successful laproscopic (keyhole) procedure. Nevertheless, you do wake up at the end of it in a lot of pain and feeling very groggy from the anaesthetic.

However, I made a rapid recovery and was transferred out of high dependency to the North2 Ward within 24 hours of the operation. By Thursday all the drip and wound lines had been removed and I was walking independently again

There were some minor complications (mysterious heart pain for a couple of days) but new tests indicated there was nothing wrong and the pain eventually disappeared.

The kidney biopsy showed that the tumour was non malignant!! A Renal Oncocytoma!! This, of course is good news, I don't have cancer. Also fortunately, I was prepared for this possibility psychologically (kidney tumours are a catch 22 situation) and further research shows that it seems to be best for this tumour to be removed anyway.

I still need more time to achieve a full recovery but certainly my prognosis is excellent.

Many thanks to those who have supported me through this time