A great Alan Kay quote

Discussion in 'Python' started by Grant Edwards, Feb 9, 2005.

  1. In an interview at http://acmqueue.com/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=273
    Alan Kay said something I really liked, and I think it applies
    equally well to Python as well as the languages mentioned:

    I characterized one way of looking at languages in this
    way: a lot of them are either the agglutination of features
    or they're a crystallization of style. Languages such as
    APL, Lisp, and Smalltalk are what you might call style
    languages, where there's a real center and imputed style to
    how you're supposed to do everything.

    I think that "a crystallization of style" sums things up nicely.
    The rest of the interview is pretty interesting as well.

    --
    Grant Edwards grante Yow! Look!! Karl Malden!
    at
    visi.com
     
    Grant Edwards, Feb 9, 2005
    #1
    1. Advertising

  2. Grant Edwards

    James Guest

    Surely

    "Perl is another example of filling a tiny, short-term need, and then
    being a real problem in the longer term."

    is better lol ;)


    On Wed, 09 Feb 2005 11:00:32 -0800 (PST), Grant Edwards <> wrote:
    > In an interview at http://acmqueue.com/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=273
    > Alan Kay said something I really liked, and I think it applies
    > equally well to Python as well as the languages mentioned:
    >
    > I characterized one way of looking at languages in this
    > way: a lot of them are either the agglutination of features
    > or they're a crystallization of style. Languages such as
    > APL, Lisp, and Smalltalk are what you might call style
    > languages, where there's a real center and imputed style to
    > how you're supposed to do everything.
    >
    > I think that "a crystallization of style" sums things up nicely.
    > The rest of the interview is pretty interesting as well.
    >
    > --
    > Grant Edwards grante Yow! Look!! Karl Malden!
    > at
    > visi.com
    > --
    > http://mail.python.org/mailman/listinfo/python-list
    >
     
    James, Feb 9, 2005
    #2
    1. Advertising

  3. On 2005-02-09, James <> wrote:
    > Surely
    >
    > "Perl is another example of filling a tiny, short-term need, and then
    > being a real problem in the longer term."
    >
    > is better lol ;)


    That was the other one I really liked, and Perl was the first
    language I thought of when I saw the phrase "agglutination of
    features". C++ was the second one.

    --
    Grant Edwards grante Yow! -- In 1962, you could
    at buy a pair of SHARKSKIN
    visi.com SLACKS, with a "Continental
    Belt," for $10.99!!
     
    Grant Edwards, Feb 9, 2005
    #3
  4. """
    Today he is Senior Fellow at Hewlett-Packard Labs and president of Viewpoints
    Research Institute, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to change how
    children are educated by creating a sample curriculum with supporting media
    for teaching math and science. This curriculum will use Squeak as its media,
    and will be highly interactive and constructive. Kay’s deep interests in
    children and education have been the catalysts for many of his ideas over the
    years.
    """

    I love him.

    It's also interesting to see GUIs with windows, mouse (etc.), which apparently
    find their origin in is mind, probably comes from the desire to introduce
    computers to children.

    Francis Girard

    Le mercredi 9 Février 2005 20:29, Grant Edwards a écrit :
    > On 2005-02-09, James <> wrote:
    > > Surely
    > >
    > > "Perl is another example of filling a tiny, short-term need, and then
    > > being a real problem in the longer term."
    > >
    > > is better lol ;)

    >
    > That was the other one I really liked, and Perl was the first
    > language I thought of when I saw the phrase "agglutination of
    > features". C++ was the second one.
    >
    > --
    > Grant Edwards grante Yow! -- In 1962, you
    > could at buy a pair of SHARKSKIN visi.com SLACKS,
    > with a "Continental Belt," for $10.99!!
     
    Francis Girard, Feb 9, 2005
    #4
  5. Grant Edwards

    Peter Hansen Guest

    Grant Edwards wrote:
    > In an interview at http://acmqueue.com/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=273
    > Alan Kay said something I really liked, and I think it applies
    > equally well to Python as well as the languages mentioned:
    >
    > I characterized one way of looking at languages in this
    > way: a lot of them are either the agglutination of features
    > or they're a crystallization of style. Languages such as
    > APL, Lisp, and Smalltalk are what you might call style
    > languages, where there's a real center and imputed style to
    > how you're supposed to do everything.
    >
    > I think that "a crystallization of style" sums things up nicely.
    > The rest of the interview is pretty interesting as well.


    Then Perl is an "agglutination of styles", while Python might
    be considered a "crystallization of features"...

    -Peter
     
    Peter Hansen, Feb 9, 2005
    #5
  6. On 2005-02-09, Peter Hansen <> wrote:

    >> I characterized one way of looking at languages in this
    >> way: a lot of them are either the agglutination of features
    >> or they're a crystallization of style. Languages such as
    >> APL, Lisp, and Smalltalk are what you might call style
    >> languages, where there's a real center and imputed style to
    >> how you're supposed to do everything.


    > Then Perl is an "agglutination of styles", while Python might
    > be considered a "crystallization of features"...


    Exactly.

    --
    Grant Edwards grante Yow! NOW, I'm supposed
    at to SCRAMBLE two, and HOLD
    visi.com th' MAYO!!
     
    Grant Edwards, Feb 9, 2005
    #6
  7. [Peter Hansen]

    > Then Perl is an "agglutination of styles", while Python might
    > be considered a "crystallization of features"...


    Grosso modo, yes. Yet, we should recognise that Python agglutinated
    a few crystals in the recent years. :)

    It gave up some of its purity for practical reasons. We got rather far
    from the "There is only one way to do it!" that once was Python motto.

    --
    François Pinard http://pinard.progiciels-bpi.ca
     
    =?iso-8859-1?Q?Fran=E7ois?= Pinard, Feb 9, 2005
    #7
  8. Grant Edwards

    Peter Hansen Guest

    François Pinard wrote:
    > [Peter Hansen]
    >
    >
    >>Then Perl is an "agglutination of styles", while Python might
    >>be considered a "crystallization of features"...

    >
    >
    > Grosso modo, yes. Yet, we should recognise that Python agglutinated
    > a few crystals in the recent years. :)
    >
    > It gave up some of its purity for practical reasons. We got rather far
    > from the "There is only one way to do it!" that once was Python motto.


    I would call a "pure" language one that had a crystallized style.

    Python, on the other hand, is just plain practical. Thus my
    half-humorous attempt at defining it in terms of the features
    (with its wide-ranging library and extension modules) rather
    than in termso of its style (which as you know can range
    from procedural to functional, stopping briefly at object
    oriented and "newbie" along the way ;-) ).

    -Peter
     
    Peter Hansen, Feb 9, 2005
    #8
  9. Grant Edwards

    has Guest

    Grant Edwards wrote:
    > In an interview at

    http://acmqueue.com/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=273
    > Alan Kay said something I really liked, and I think it applies
    > equally well to Python as well as the languages mentioned:
    >
    > I characterized one way of looking at languages in this
    > way: a lot of them are either the agglutination of features
    > or they're a crystallization of style


    I'd say Python is somewhere in the middle, though moving slowly towards
    'agglutination' in the last couple years.


    > The rest of the interview is pretty interesting as well.


    Excellent link, thanks.
     
    has, Feb 9, 2005
    #9
  10. On Wed, 09 Feb 2005 15:57:10 -0800, has wrote:
    > I'd say Python is somewhere in the middle, though moving slowly towards
    > 'agglutination' in the last couple years.


    But it feels really badly about that and promises to kick the habit
    somewhere around the year 3000.
     
    Jeremy Bowers, Feb 9, 2005
    #10
  11. Francis Girard wrote:
    > ...
    > It's also interesting to see GUIs with windows, mouse (etc.), which apparently
    > find their origin in is mind, probably comes from the desire to introduce
    > computers to children.


    OK, presuming "origin in is mind" was meant to say "origin in his mind,"
    I'd like to stick up for Doug Engelbart (holds the patent on the mouse)
    here. I interviewed with his group at SRI in the ancient past, when
    they were working on the "Augmentation Research" project -- machine
    augmentation of human intelligence. They, at the time, were working on
    input pointing devices and hadn't yet settled. The helmet that read
    brain waves was doing astoundingly well (90% correct on up, down, left,
    right, don't move), but nowhere near well enough to use for positioning
    on edits. This work produced the mouse, despite rumors of Xerox Parc or
    Apple inventing the mouse.

    Xerox Parc, did, as far as I understand, do the early development on
    interactive graphic display using a mouse for positioning on a
    graphics screen. Engelbart's mouse navigated on a standard 80x24
    character screen.

    Augment did real research on what might work, with efforts to measure
    ease of use and reliability. They did not simply start with a good
    (or great) guess and charge forward. They produced the mouse, and the
    earliest "linked" documents that I know of.

    http://sloan.stanford.edu/MouseSite/1968Demo.html

    --Scott David Daniels
     
    Scott David Daniels, Feb 10, 2005
    #11
  12. Pioneers of WIMPishness (was: A great Alan Kay quote)

    In article <420ab9c9$>,
    Scott David Daniels <> wrote:
    .
    [thoroughly appropriate
    focus on Engelbart and
    his Augment colleagues]
    .
    .
    >(or great) guess and charge forward. They produced the mouse, and the
    >earliest "linked" documents that I know of.
    >
    > http://sloan.stanford.edu/MouseSite/1968Demo.html

    .
    .
    .
    I entirely agree that Engelbart deserves full recognition for his
    achievements. At the same time, I think we also should note that
    Ted Nelson was publishing articles about "hypertext" in '65, and
    Vannevar Bush lucidly explained his vision for textual linking in
    '45. With a little provocation, I can push the ideas of "mechanical"
    or "machine" referencing back at least to the Enlightenment, and
    arguably much farther.
     
    Cameron Laird, Feb 10, 2005
    #12
  13. Grant Edwards

    Arthur Guest

    On Wed, 9 Feb 2005 21:23:06 +0100, Francis Girard
    <> wrote:
    >
    >I love him.


    I don't.
    >
    >It's also interesting to see GUIs with windows, mouse (etc.), which apparently
    >find their origin in is mind, probably comes from the desire to introduce
    >computers to children.



    Alfred Bork, now
    Professor Emeritus
    Information and Computer Science
    University of California, Irvine 92697

    had written an article in 1980 called

    "Interactive Learning" which began

    "We are at the onset of a major revolution in education, a revolution
    unparalleled since the invention of the printing press. The computer
    will be the instrument of this revolution."

    In 2000 he published:

    "Interactive Learning: Twenty Years Later"

    looking back on his orignal article and its optimistic predictions and
    admitting "I was not a very good prophet"

    What went wrong?

    Among other things he points (probably using a pointing device) at the
    pointing device

    """
    Another is the rise of the mouse as a computer device. People had the
    peculiar idea that one could deal with the world of learning purely by
    pointing.

    """
    The articles can be found here:

    http://www.citejournal.org/vol2/iss4/seminal.cfm

    One does not need to agree or disagree, it seems to me about this or
    that point on interface, or influence, or anything else. What one does
    need to do is separate hope from actuality, and approach the entire
    subject area with some sense of what is at stake, and with some true
    sense of the complexity of the issues, in such a way that at this
    stage of the game the only authentic stance is one of humility,

    Kay fails the humility test, dramatically. IMO.

    Art
     
    Arthur, Feb 10, 2005
    #13
  14. Grant Edwards

    alex23 Guest

    jfj wrote:
    > Bah. My impressions from the interview was "there are no good
    > languages anymore. In my time we made great languages, but today
    > they all suck. Perl for example...."


    That was kind of what I took from it as well. Don't get me wrong, I've
    a lot of respect for Kay's contributions...he just doesn't understand
    that there's *more* to a language than it's adherence to his ideas of
    'best'. His arguments are literally academic.

    Decrying contemporary choices for their "pop" nature kinda sounds like
    the ugly kid devaluing the importance of the school dance.

    It just wasn't fit enough to survive, Alan. Let it go.

    - alex23
     
    alex23, Feb 10, 2005
    #14
  15. Thank you.

    Francis Girard

    Le jeudi 10 Février 2005 02:48, Scott David Daniels a écrit :
    > Francis Girard wrote:
    > > ...
    > > It's also interesting to see GUIs with windows, mouse (etc.), which
    > > apparently find their origin in is mind, probably comes from the desire
    > > to introduce computers to children.

    >
    > OK, presuming "origin in is mind" was meant to say "origin in his mind,"
    > I'd like to stick up for Doug Engelbart (holds the patent on the mouse)
    > here. I interviewed with his group at SRI in the ancient past, when
    > they were working on the "Augmentation Research" project -- machine
    > augmentation of human intelligence. They, at the time, were working on
    > input pointing devices and hadn't yet settled. The helmet that read
    > brain waves was doing astoundingly well (90% correct on up, down, left,
    > right, don't move), but nowhere near well enough to use for positioning
    > on edits. This work produced the mouse, despite rumors of Xerox Parc or
    > Apple inventing the mouse.
    >
    > Xerox Parc, did, as far as I understand, do the early development on
    > interactive graphic display using a mouse for positioning on a
    > graphics screen. Engelbart's mouse navigated on a standard 80x24
    > character screen.
    >
    > Augment did real research on what might work, with efforts to measure
    > ease of use and reliability. They did not simply start with a good
    > (or great) guess and charge forward. They produced the mouse, and the
    > earliest "linked" documents that I know of.
    >
    > http://sloan.stanford.edu/MouseSite/1968Demo.html
    >
    > --Scott David Daniels
    >
     
    Francis Girard, Feb 10, 2005
    #15
  16. Le jeudi 10 Février 2005 04:37, Arthur a écrit :
    > On Wed, 9 Feb 2005 21:23:06 +0100, Francis Girard
    >
    > <> wrote:
    > >I love him.

    >
    > I don't.
    >
    > >It's also interesting to see GUIs with windows, mouse (etc.), which
    > > apparently find their origin in is mind, probably comes from the desire
    > > to introduce computers to children.

    >
    > Alfred Bork, now
    > Professor Emeritus
    > Information and Computer Science
    > University of California, Irvine 92697
    >
    > had written an article in 1980 called
    >
    > "Interactive Learning" which began
    >
    > "We are at the onset of a major revolution in education, a revolution
    > unparalleled since the invention of the printing press. The computer
    > will be the instrument of this revolution."
    >
    > In 2000 he published:
    >
    > "Interactive Learning: Twenty Years Later"
    >
    > looking back on his orignal article and its optimistic predictions and
    > admitting "I was not a very good prophet"
    >
    > What went wrong?
    >
    > Among other things he points (probably using a pointing device) at the
    > pointing device
    >
    > """
    > Another is the rise of the mouse as a computer device. People had the
    > peculiar idea that one could deal with the world of learning purely by
    > pointing.
    >
    > """
    > The articles can be found here:
    >
    > http://www.citejournal.org/vol2/iss4/seminal.cfm
    >
    > One does not need to agree or disagree, it seems to me about this or
    > that point on interface, or influence, or anything else. What one does
    > need to do is separate hope from actuality, and approach the entire
    > subject area with some sense of what is at stake, and with some true
    > sense of the complexity of the issues, in such a way that at this
    > stage of the game the only authentic stance is one of humility,
    >
    > Kay fails the humility test, dramatically. IMO.


    I think I've been enthouasistic too fast. While reading the article I grew
    more and more uncomfortable with sayings like :

    - Intel and Motorola don't know how to do micro-processors and did not
    understand anything in our own architecture
    - Languages of today are features filled doggy bags
    - Java failed where I succeeded
    - I think beautifully like a mathematician while the rest is pop culture
    - etc.

    I'm not sure at all he likes Python. Python is too pragmmatic for him. And its
    definition does not hold in the palm of his hand.

    I think he's a bit nostalgic.

    Francis Girard
    or




    >
    > Art
     
    Francis Girard, Feb 10, 2005
    #16
  17. Grant Edwards

    PA Guest

    PA, Feb 10, 2005
    #17
  18. Grant Edwards

    jfj Guest

    Peter Hansen wrote:
    > Grant Edwards wrote:
    >
    >> In an interview at
    >> http://acmqueue.com/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=273
    >> Alan Kay said something I really liked, and I think it applies
    >> equally well to Python as well as the languages mentioned:
    >>
    >> I characterized one way of looking at languages in this
    >> way: a lot of them are either the agglutination of features
    >> or they're a crystallization of style. Languages such as
    >> APL, Lisp, and Smalltalk are what you might call style
    >> languages, where there's a real center and imputed style to
    >> how you're supposed to do everything.
    >>
    >> I think that "a crystallization of style" sums things up nicely.
    >> The rest of the interview is pretty interesting as well.

    >
    >
    > Then Perl is an "agglutination of styles", while Python might
    > be considered a "crystallization of features"...


    Bah. My impressions from the interview was "there are no good
    languages anymore. In my time we made great languages, but today
    they all suck. Perl for example...."
    I got the impressions that the interview is as bad for python
    as for perl and any of the languages of the 90's and 00's.

    From the interview:
    """ You could think of it as putting a low-pass filter on some of the
    good ideas from the ’60s and ’70s, as computing spread out much, much
    faster than educating unsophisticated people can happen. In the last 25
    years or so, we actually got something like a pop culture, similar to
    what happened when television came on the scene and some of its
    inventors thought it would be a way of getting Shakespeare to the
    masses. But they forgot that you have to be more sophisticated and have
    more perspective to understand Shakespeare. What television was able to
    do was to capture people as they were.

    So I think the lack of a real computer science today, and the lack of
    real software engineering today, is partly due to this pop culture.
    """

    So, let's not be so self-important <winkus>, and see this interview
    as one who bashes perl and admires python. It aint. Python is pop
    culture according to Mr Kay. I'll leave the rest to slashdot..


    jfj
     
    jfj, Feb 10, 2005
    #18
  19. Re: Pioneers of WIMPishness (was: A great Alan Kay quote)

    On Thu, 10 Feb 2005 03:08:11 GMT, rumours say that (Cameron
    Laird) might have written:

    >I entirely agree that Engelbart deserves full recognition for his
    >achievements. At the same time, I think we also should note that
    >Ted Nelson was publishing articles about "hypertext" in '65, and
    >Vannevar Bush lucidly explained his vision for textual linking in
    >'45. With a little provocation, I can push the ideas of "mechanical"
    >or "machine" referencing back at least to the Enlightenment, and
    >arguably much farther.


    Like Áíôéêýèçñá
    --
    TZOTZIOY, I speak England very best.
    "Be strict when sending and tolerant when receiving." (from RFC1958)
    I really should keep that in mind when talking with people, actually...
     
    Christos TZOTZIOY Georgiou, Feb 10, 2005
    #19
  20. Re: Pioneers of WIMPishness (was: A great Alan Kay quote)

    On Thu, 10 Feb 2005 03:08:11 GMT, rumours say that (Cameron
    Laird) might have written:

    [more snipping]

    >With a little provocation, I can push the ideas of "mechanical"
    >or "machine" referencing back at least to the Enlightenment, and
    >arguably much farther.


    Please ignore my earlier post, since it was mistakenly sent incomplete.

    about "arguably much farther":

    http://www.ancient-mysteries.com/greece2000/Main/Main2/Main3/Anti-Main/anti-main.html

    and

    http://www.smith.edu/hsc/museum/ancient_inventions/battery2.html

    and

    http://www.smith.edu/hsc/museum/ancient_inventions/steamengine2.html


    Nice page, this:

    http://www.smith.edu/hsc/museum/ancient_inventions/hsclist.htm
    --
    TZOTZIOY, I speak England very best.
    "Be strict when sending and tolerant when receiving." (from RFC1958)
    I really should keep that in mind when talking with people, actually...
     
    Christos TZOTZIOY Georgiou, Feb 10, 2005
    #20
    1. Advertising

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

It takes just 2 minutes to sign up (and it's free!). Just click the sign up button to choose a username and then you can ask your own questions on the forum.
Similar Threads
  1. Pea-nutz

    Flash is good, m'kay?

    Pea-nutz, Oct 29, 2003, in forum: HTML
    Replies:
    11
    Views:
    745
    Whitecrest
    Nov 5, 2003
  2. Stylus Studio
    Replies:
    0
    Views:
    691
    Stylus Studio
    Dec 15, 2005
  3. Curt Hibbs
    Replies:
    28
    Views:
    631
    Csaba Henk
    Mar 7, 2005
  4. Eric I.
    Replies:
    0
    Views:
    262
    Eric I.
    Oct 5, 2008
  5. -berlin.de

    Alan J. Flavell RIP

    -berlin.de, Feb 26, 2007, in forum: Perl Misc
    Replies:
    4
    Views:
    121
    Ben Morrow
    Feb 28, 2007
Loading...

Share This Page