Squeak is a social community

Howard Stearns hstearns at wisc.edu
Sun Oct 29 14:13:15 UTC 2006

True, but missing my point (and Lex's, I think, which is certainly  
not the only way to look at it).  The platform-as-party view is that  
different platforms (or languages or projects) can be thought of  
simply as a group of people -- not what the people do with the platform.

Think of a political party, or the group of fans of one sports team  
vs another. There may be values, intentions, or practices that set  
one group from another, but quite often there isn't. Or maybe they're  
not consistent. While some folks hook up with one group or another  
because of values and such, many are just born into it. Maybe there  
was a cute girl. Or someone impressed you as really knowing what they  
were doing and they turned out to be a Squeaker. Sometimes the  
reasons that things happen is subtle. Sometimes there isn't a reason  
at all.  [The mathematician Gregory Chaitin is considered the heir to  
Goedel. He is noted for proving that some things (in mathematics) are  
not true for a particular reason -- they just are.  As a (randomly?)  
triple apropos example of my point, I only became acquainted with  
Chaitin because he uses the count of characters in Lisp source code  
as an inverse measure of a computation's elegance. I thought that was  
cool, and had some correspondence with the guy, which made me a fan.  
Probably more than would be warranted by the math. Cult of  
personality happens. Kuhn happens.]

All of which is very touchy-feely and interesting and all, but what's  
the value? As much as I hate the idea that people devote so much of  
their lives to subtle and sometimes arbitrary choices of clique, it  
is a fact. We can either ignore this disagreeable truth and flail, or  
we can try to incorporate it into our thinking.

[Make's no difference to me. I'm just watching and sharing. Your  
mileage may vary.]

Again, Kent's description is at http://www.nhplace.com/kent/PS/ 
It's pretty short, and he writes better than I do.


On Oct 28, 2006, at 10:45 PM, mmille10 at comcast.net wrote:

> I agree. I think Squeak is a bunch of different groups. Since  
> Smalltalk was the prototype for the modern day personal computer  
> platforms, Mac OS and Windows, they have similar issues. Each of  
> them have different communities to support as well. They have their  
> users who just want to do some word processing, e-mail, and web  
> browsing. They have their "power users" who want to do desktop  
> publishing, web publishing; photo and video editing, business  
> functions, games, etc. They have a development community that  
> writes this software. And they have the system level coders who  
> write system utilities for these platforms. These are different  
> from the Squeak communities, but I'm sure similar dynamics are  
> involved. Each time the OS vendor produces a new upgrade, they  
> recognize they need to provide compatibility and "goodies" to each  
> of these communities in order for the platform to thrive.
> ---Mark
> -------------- Original message --------------
> From: Lex Spoon <lex at cc.gatech.edu>
> > Howard Stearns writes:
> >
> > > Who is Squeak for? What are the guiding principles for decisions?
> > >
> > > There's been a lot of discussion about this lately -- as  
> always. So I
> > > thought some folks might (or might not!) be interested in the
> > > philosophy that Squeak is defined not by technical nor procedural
> > > means, but as a social phenomenon among the people who happen to
> > > consider themselves Squeakers (or Smalltalkers).
> > >
> > > Many years ago, Kent Pitman made this argument about Lisp, and  
> I think
> > > he said it well: http://www.nhplace.com/kent/PS/Lambda.html
> >
> > Thanks for the link, Howard, I look forward to reading it.
> >
> > I view Squeak as a common area for a lot of different groups, and  
> thus
> > the social aspect cannot be ignored if you want to understand  
> Squeak.
> > It's not a project with a single goal and a 5-year plan for getting
> > there.
> >
> > Brenda Laurel compares the situation to Renaissance Festivals,  
> and has
> > a great way of putting it: "Everyone there is having a good time,  
> but
> > everyone there is having a *different* good time."
> >
> > As a quick stab, we have:
> >
> > - The Squeakland project, Alan Kay's favorite branch, which uses
> > Squeak as a new kind of media. Squeakland tries to
> >
> > - Myriad computer-science research groups who love having a free,
> > malleable Smalltalk as a base to experiement from.
> >
> > - Classroom usage for teaching how objects work.
> >
> > - Development. Smalltalk is very productive, and Squeak is
> > a good one.
> >
> > - ... and maybe a part of the Hundred Dollar Laptop.
> >
> >
> > An older article I wrote tries to make the same enumeration, as well
> > as sketch what kind of bilaws would make any sense for such a  
> diverse
> > group:
> >
> > http://people.squeakfoundation.org/article/44.html
> >
> > Anyway, I'm sure I left some folks out. What do others think?
> >
> > -Lex
> >
> >

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