On Tue, Jul 17, 2012 at 2:24 AM, Mark <delir...@hackish.org> wrote:

> On 7/16/12 7:43 PM, Andreas Kolbe wrote:
>> We need to be a lot friendlier to the non-programming public.
>>  I agree that's true, but I'd also be curious how we can do that without
> falling into the trap of the "user-friendly", invisible-interface ideology,
> which does it by assuming users are unable to meaningfully control
> computers, and therefore must be fed the correct results by experts who
> know how to operate computers. That way lies just a different version of
> stratification.
> I'm somewhat partial to Jeannette Wing's view that "computational
> thinking" should attempt to decouple minutiae of programming (e.g. knowing
> how to debug C, which can be an expert skill) from the idea of being able
> to critically consider and control computers in the sense of executing
> processes (which needs to be widely available). The idea (as Ted Nelson
> also argued earlier) is to devolve as many tools as possible, to whatever
> extent possible, towards as many people as possible, which
> "user-friendliness" paradoxically doesn't really do (Lori Emerson has been
> pushing this argument, fwiw).
> How that precisely should operate on Wikipedia is a tricky question, of
> course. I would personally like to see us better enable the "potentially
> programming public", for one thing, where "programming" is taken in a broad
> sense.
> -Mark

Mark, you say "knowing how to debug C, which can be an expert skill" ... I
hope you are aware that about half of our overall global target audience
wouldn't even know what C is, let alone know how to write something in it
or debug it. I think I understand what you mean with user-friendliness
being potentially restrictive, and I have nothing against some advanced
functions being available to buffs: but that's really the bells and
whistles, which should come after the basics.

Take application software like MS Word – you can do all the basic stuff
just by clicking, and you don't need to know anything about programming
whatsoever. That's the basics. It's what any product that wants to survive
needs to offer. You *can* also program fairly involved macros in MS Word:
that's the bells and whistles. People who are into macro programming will
consider that a vital function, but 95% of Word users will probably never
program a macro in their lives. (If memory serves, later versions of Word
didn't even include the Developer tab with all the Visual Basic functions
in the default installation.)

User-friendliness that will make the programming-illiterate comfortable is
not a trap but an absolute must.
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