Alan Kay and Emerging Technology

I’ve been a fan of Alan Kay’s for a long time. It’s nice to see that he’s starting to develop some recent visibility in the blog world. The first thing that popped up in my aggregator a while back was this comment:

Clueful markets yield good products.

Here’s an “aha” quote from this interview with computing pioneer Alan Kay:

After complaining about the current state of software targeting children, I ask Kay how we encourage the production of better educational software for kids. He answers, “don’t buy bad stuff.”

As simple as that sounds, he points out that “the market needs to reject what is bad. The stuff that got put out wasn’t rejected. It’s a certain kind of laziness. […] On the other hand, you have to make sure people are aware of their alternatives. A popular fast food restaurant might be across the street. Meanwhile, a mile a way is a better restaurant where a good meal costs just a little more than at the place across the street. We need to help get the word out for the alternative. [Seb’s Open Research ]

Then he shows up as a keynote at etech which was heavily blogged. Lisa Rein provides a wonderfully rich collection of audio and video clips plus links to major resources. Cory Doctorow provides detailed notes from Alan’s talk including follow up corrections and elaborations from Alan. So do Phil Windley and Jon Lebkowsky.

If you’re so inclined I would definitely recommend you spend some time with Squeak and Croquet. Unfortunately, between other time demands and the lingering effects of first learning to program using Fortran and Cobol, I’ve only made the slowest progress. Alan tells me that the problem is that I just have more to unlearn.