Ah hah! Ward Cunningham Explained!

Fran Allen’s Turing Award made me ponder future recipients. Most of the action in the software development world today rotates around business, not science. The Turing Award is supposed to honor technical contributions, not marketshare or business models. The problem with that is that “everything happened in the Golden Age (’64-’74), right?” Then I thought of an obvious candidate for a future Turing Award,someone who’s elegant programs and approaches have had a lasting and practical impact. Do you see?

Ward Cunningham is a time traveller from 1969!

Visual Basic + Mono + LiveCD == Programming Console for Education?

Mono now has native support for Visual Basic. Linux already supports a “console” approach to your hardware: pop in a CD/DVD and boot into a specialized environment. While I think general-purpose computers are more appropriate for intermediate-and-better users, the console approach is very appealing when it comes to training beginners-to-intermediate in complex fields. For instance, I would love to have a “statistics machine,” that gave me access to a suite of appropriate tools for my every-few-years need to do something more sophisticated than calculate a standard deviation. (In the meantime, I have Mathematica, which of course can do anything that’s asked of it, but the point is that I have to essentially re-learn my own beginner-intermediate understanding of statistics, which is not facilitated by simply having a powerful tool.)

I could imagine a LiveCD that surfaced environments for … (snip an ever-growing list of arguably appropriate languages) … whatever languages you felt were necessary for a programming curriculum. Of course, VB’s great advantage has been that it is both accessible and professionally used. Today, it would be hard to make the argument that Ruby, JavaScript, or PHP don’t fit that philosophy better.

Lisp machines are fondly remembered by some. The only Mac I’ve ever owned was a “IIFX” that, for me, was essentially a Smalltalk console.