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Alan Kay's teading list
Etoys is an educational tool for teaching children powerful ideas in compelling ways. Etoys is a media-rich authoring environment and visual programming system.
toread  books  alankay  learning 
2 days ago by totocaster
Alan Kay's answer to What made Xerox PARC special? Who else today is like them? - Quora
"Many of the ARPA researchers were quite fluent in both HW and SW (though usually better at one than the other). This made for a pretty homogeneous computing culture and great synergy in most projects.
The above goes against the commonsense idea that “computer people should not try to make their own tools (because of the infinite Turing Tarpit that results)”. The ARPA idea was a second order notion: “if you can make your own tools, HW and SW, then you must!” (..)
The grad schools, especially, generally admitted people who “seemed interesting” and judgements weren’t made until a few years down the road. (..)
One of the most interesting ideas at Parc was: “every invention has to be engineered for 100 users”. So if you do a programming language or a DTP word processor, etc, it has to be documented for and usable by 100 people. If you make a personal computer, you have to be able to make 100 of them. If an Ethernet, it has to connect to 100 devices, etc."
alankay  computer  history  innovation  arpa  xerox  parc  hardware  software  tools  toolbuilding  gradschool  scale  users  interesting 
9 weeks ago by gohai
How to Invent the Future I - CS183F
Alan Kay on inventing the future. This video is mostly about PARC and the culture around it.
alankay  yc  startupschool  youtube  video  future  invention  innovation  parc  xeroxparc 
10 weeks ago by drmeme
Alan Kay's answer to What made Xerox PARC special? Who else today is like them? - Quora
[I noted on Twitter that "1 through 5 easily adaptable for education. For example: teach students, not subjects."]

"A good book (pretty much the only good book) to read about the research community that Parc was a part of is “The Dream Machine” by Mitchell Waldrop. There you will find out about the ARPA (before the “D”) IPTO (Information Processing Techniques Office) set up in 1962 by the visionary JCR Licklider, who created a research community of 15 or 16 “projects”, mostly at universities, but also a few at places like RAND Corp, Lincoln Labs, Mitre, BBN, SDC, etc.

There was a vision: “The destiny of computers is to become interactive intellectual amplifiers for everyone in the world pervasively networked worldwide”.

A few principles:

1. Visions not goals

2. Fund people not projects — the scientists find the problems not the funders. So, for many reasons, you have to have the best researchers.

3. Problem Finding — not just Problem Solving

4. Milestones not deadlines

5. It’s “baseball” not “golf” — batting .350 is very good in a high aspiration high risk area. Not getting a hit is not an error but the overhead for getting hits. (As in baseball, “error” is failing to pull off something that is technically feasible.)

6. It’s about shaping “computer stuff” to human ends per the vision. Much of the time this required the researchers to design and build pretty much everything, including much of the hardware — including a variety of mainframes — and virtually all of the software needed (including OSs and programming languages, etc.). Many of the ARPA researchers were quite fluent in both HW and SW (though usually better at one than the other). This made for a pretty homogeneous computing culture and great synergy in most projects.

7. The above goes against the commonsense idea that “computer people should not try to make their own tools (because of the infinite Turing Tarpit that results)”. The ARPA idea was a second order notion: “if you can make your own tools, HW and SW, then you must!”. The idea was that if you are going to take on big important and new problems then you just have to develop the chops to pull off all needed tools, partly because of what “new” really means, and partly because trying to do workarounds of vendor stuff that is in the wrong paradigm will kill the research thinking.

8. An important part of the research results are researchers. This extends the “baseball” idea to human development. The grad schools, especially, generally admitted people who “seemed interesting” and judgements weren’t made until a few years down the road. Many of the researchers who ultimately solved most of the many problems of personal computing and networking were created by the ARPA community.

Parc was the last of these “ARPA Projects” to be created, and because of funding changes from the Vietnam war, got its funding from a corporation rather than from ARPA-IPTO. But pretty much all of the computer people at Parc had grown up in ARPA projects in the 60s, and Bob Taylor, who set up the computing research at Parc, had been the 3rd director of ARPA-IPTO.

Bob’s goal was to “Realize The ARPA Dream”.

Parc was highly concentrated with regard to wealth of talents, abilities, vision, confidence, and cooperation. There was no real management structure, so things were organized to allow researchers to “suggest” and “commit” and “decommit” in a more or less orderly fashion.

Quite a lot of the inventions Parc is most known for were done in the first 5 years by a rather small pool of researchers (Butler Lampson estimates about 25 people, and that seems about right).

One of the most interesting ideas at Parc was: “every invention has to be engineered for 100 users”. So if you do a programming language or a DTP word processor, etc, it has to be documented for and usable by 100 people. If you make a personal computer, you have to be able to make 100 of them. If an Ethernet, it has to connect to 100 devices, etc.

There was no software religion. Everyone made the languages and OSs and apps, etc that they felt would advance their research.

Hardware was trickier because of the time and costs needed for replication and doing and making new designs. In practice this worked out pretty easily most of the time — via not too many meetings — and the powers of HW geniuses like Chuck Thacker. A few things — like the disk sectors and simple Ethernet protocols, etc. — were agreed on, mainly to allow more important things to be done more idiosyncratically. In practice, Parc designed and put in the field a variety of Alto designs (about 2000 Altos were built), MAXCs, Dolphins, Dorados, NoteTakers, Dandelions, etc over a period of about 10 years — i.e. quite a lot.

There were key figures. For example, Parc would not have succeeded without Bob Taylor, Butler Lampson, Chuck Thacker, and a few others.

I would call the first 5 years “effectively idyllic”. And the second 5 years “very productive but gradually erosive” (the latter due to Xerox’s many changes of management, and not being able to grapple with either the future, or a possible grand destiny for the company)."
alankay  zeroxparc  2017  vision  goals  funding  milestones  deadlines  errors  tools  toolmaking  education  learning  innovation  creativity  arpa  sfsh  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  openstudioproject  lcproject  problemsolving  problemfinding 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Alan Kay Interview (1990) - YouTube
quest for personal computing
batch -> timesharing
JOSS, RAND time-sharing systems by John Clifford Shaw
language as interface
Sketchpad demo by Ivan Sutherland on a Lincoln TX-2
* inspired Doug Engelbart, among others at ARPA
Engelbart NLS demo
* mice, video conferencing
* first glimpse of personal computing
Flex Machine
* failure with non-computer folks
* foreshadows Smalltalk
from computer as train (batch) to car (personal, freeing, but takes training to use)
* children programming in LOGO (influenced by JOSS and Lisp) give rise to medium metaphor
tablet-based successor to JOSS, with shape and handwriting recognition
* glimpse of intimate computing
computer as medium
* "something between"
* alienating but amplifying
* book metaphor
** parallels with the development of books
** books became really useful once they were small and cheap enough to be lost
** language as interface
*** Martin Luther sort of invented High German to bring the Bible closer to the people
XEROX PARC
* modelled after ARPA by Bob Taylor
* poached ARPA-ites after the Mansfield Proclamation
* Alto workstation made possible by Intel memory chips in early 70s
children's play
* children play at "simulations" of adult roles
* recognize that what they do on a computer is "real", in that it's foundational
frontier research throws up a "wake" of ingenuity
common sense as an ocean allowing us to navigate islands of expertise
* expert systems are isolated; no common sense to get to other islands
history  programming  hardware  videos  youtube  AlanKay 
february 2017 by torbiak
Is it really "Complex"? Or did we just make it "Complicated"? - YouTube
A sweet demo of a graphics and typesetting system written in a few thousand lines of code by making heavy use of DSLs.
via:BrandurLeach  AlanKay  videos  youtube  programming  architecture 
february 2017 by torbiak

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