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Interview With Alan Kay

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Alan Kay

"The Web . . . is a joke. The Web was done by amateurs," says Alan Kay, shown here at the ACM Turing Centenary Celebration.

Credit: ACM

A.M. Turing Award winner Alan Kay says many programmers who code for money have a lack of awareness of the roots of their culture, to the point that they consider the Internet something akin to a natural resource rather than a man-made construct. He notes, for example, that Web pages are inferior to HyperCard, and contends that "the Web . . . was done by people who had no imagination. They were just trying to satisfy an immediate need." In a similar vein, Kay says modern object-oriented systems do not align with his definition. "Objects were a radical idea, then they got retrograded," he says.

Kay cites a popular movement founded on pattern languages as the most catastrophic thing about programming. "Extracting patterns from today's programming practices ennobles them in a way they don't deserve," he maintains. "It actually gives them more cachet."

In terms of programming education, Kay sees value in assessing children's skills at different developmental levels, with an emphasis on taking them forward rather than keeping them in one place. "Education is a double-edged sword," he says. "You have to start where people are, but if you stay there, you're not educating."

From Dr. Dobb's Journal
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Abstracts Copyright © 2012 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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