Squeak is a social community

David P Harris dpharris at telus.net
Sun Oct 29 15:49:15 UTC 2006


Thanks for pointing out Kent's paper.  There is not much I don't agree 
with there.  It is interesting as we get older how Meta concerns such as 
these become more important.  So it would appear that computer languages 
are growing, changing, and living language as much as natural 
languages.  He also gives a good explanation of the dynamics within and 
between groups, and in particular this group.  I don't think this is 
bad.  I think people are drawn to languages such as Smalltalk and Lisp 
because they are malleable.  I certainly would loose interest if 
Smalltalk was frozen.  I personally am drawn to this group because it is 
exploring new concepts and ideas. 


Howard Stearns wrote:

> 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/ 
> Lambda.html
> It's pretty short, and he writes better than I do.
> -H
> 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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