[squeakland] Artifacts in ObjectCatalog

Offray Vladimir Luna Cárdenas offray.luna at javeriana.edu.co
Tue Jun 22 09:03:52 EDT 2010

Hi all,

On 06/03/2010 06:10 AM, Hilaire Fernandes wrote:
> Steve Thomas a écrit :
>> As far as whether they should be included in the Etoys Object 
>> Catalog.  At this point I think not.
>> Etoys (as near as I can figure) is built upon doing everything from 
>> first principles, which is part of its power and beauty.
>> That said I think we need to solve the problem that it can take quite 
>> a while and not everyone is capable of building things from first 
>> principles. 
> You can even wrote most people are not capable of building things from 
> first principles. If we want Etoys to scale to a larger audiance, it 
> is a way to go.
> Of course, it is not because we provide higher level artefact (in a 
> way we found appropriate) we are closing the door.
> Hilaire

About what Katlenn Hilaire and Steve are discussing, I think that we 
need a way to make Etoys grow with their audience. I used Scracth and 
Etoys to teach "Introduction to Informatics" with freshmen students in 
University and now I use them to teach some introductory concepts of 
object oriented programming to teachers who are making master studies on 
didactics with an emphasis on Information and Communication 
Technologies. So my students population is not primary children, but 
young students and seasoned teachers and thats why I have a concern with 
an environment that grow with the student. In my personal experience 
artifacts (in the sense that Hilaire is talking) are necesary. My first 
necessity of them came with my studies on collective problem solving and 
adding Bots Inc artifact (made by Ducasse) to Etoys  was a major 
improvement in the learning experience. And I think that DrGeoII is also 
an improvement in a lot of contexts.

I think that Etoys/Squeak embodies much powerful ideas about what 
informatics should be, as powerful that is some kind of response about 
what you thought about computers before the very first encounter with 
Squeak. Computer as cognitive artifacts need to have a discourse about 
knowledge (an epistemology). For me these are some of the powerful ideas 
of Squeak:

  * Self contained: Squeak has a discourse about itself. You can change 
Squeak from Squeak itself. I have seen this in other software like the 
tiddlywiki microwiki made in javascript, and the metaeditor Leo 
(Literate Editor with Outlines) made in python.

   * Metamedium: This is where Squeak surely beats others. Is a way to 
think / create discourse about other digital media. In general the idea 
of creating discourse about digital is an effort you see in the 
Smalltalk/Squeak group since the beginning. Now it has incarnations in 
projects like COLA (Collaborative Object Lambda Architecture), but again 
you can see this in some way in Tiddlywiki (but their discourse is only 
about hipertext and hipermedia and they "delegate to the browser" most 
of the media part) and Leo in the sense that using a variant of Literate 
Programming you can organize a program in a way that fits your way of 
understanding / explaining, not only classes, objetcts, methods and so 
on. What I try to point is that Squeak is a place to think about other 
things including informatics and other scientific disciplines and 
science itself. The idea of using computers to represent/empower human 
thinking is also in hypermedia and literate programming, for example, 
and is possible to see in it a diverse intellectual tradition that 
includes thinkers like Kay, Engelbart, Nelson, Knuth. For me, if we want 
to make improvements on education we need to honor that tradition and 
make more explicit connections between this schools and proposals.

The comments of Katleen, Hilaire and Steve are rooted in a way to 
improve the learning experience (well we all comment on that in this 
list) and I think that we need to have a look about how computers are 
thought as cognitive artifacts that have a discourse about knowledge and 
look at several traditions. In that way we can use the ideas behind 
Squeak and others, even if we're not using Squeak (or others) directly. 
For example, as my teaching went from informatics to mathematics I 
started to try to inform (in the sense of giving form and sense) to my 
teaching practices from the ideas learned in the Squeak community and 
connect them with others, even if my tools where Computer Algebra 
Systems, Scientific word processors and Social Software, but this will 
be part of another mail... this one went too long and I'm taking a long 
detour of the initial discuss.



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