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Re: Invitation to visit Disney Imagineering

> Well ... last night, I downloaded the Linux and Windows versions of Squeak,
> and I plan to install them as soon as I finish a couple of current projects.
> I only played with Smalltalk before this, but I find I still have the old
> Digitalk Smalltalk V 286 around, and I know there's a Smalltalk for Linux.

Great!  Squeak is very much like Smalltalk-80, so other Smalltalks 
you've used will probably look familiar -- especially the older ones.  
The ANSI Smalltalk specification only was created less than a year 

GNU Smalltalk has been dormant for quite a while.  But apparently 
someone is working on it again:


GNU Smalltalk might be able to integrate itself with the OS more 
than Squeak would want to do, but otherwise I'm not sure what it 
offers over Squeak.

> As a preliminary to this investigation, let me raise one threshhold
> question. Are we interested in looking at Squeak as
>         a. a development platform for cross-OS educational applications (in
> the style of Java, only, presumably, better)?
> or
>         b. a programming environment suitable for teaching programming
> concepts and technigues to K-12 students (in the style of LOGO, only,
> presumably, better)?
> or both?

It could be any number of things.  But for any of them there is 
some work involved:

a. involves making the system more easily distributed, and 
probably a bit better to lock down.  The necessary features are 
already there, I think, but they need this sort of polish.  I think 
there's already a lot of people working on this, and just keeping up 
with them can be difficult.  The Squeak list has very heavy traffic -- 
I've been trying to keep up with it lately without great success.  I 
think a strategic use of effort would avoid things that other people 
are already very concerned with.

b. involves quite a bit of work.  There would have to be some sort of 
curriculum developement, because OO programming is a long 
ways from Basic, Logo, or Pascal, and the techniques of teaching 
with it would probably be a lot different.  Even Java allows one to 
use it like a procedural language, but that's just not an option in 
Smalltalk.  Also, there'd have to be some more focusing of the 
interface -- the Class library is really large, probably too large for 
effective exploration.  A few language issues too (like its order of 
precedence) make its pedagogical benefit leaving something to ask 

Then there's the middle ground, which is where a HyperStudio-ish 
program would fit.  It's kind of programming with its active content, 
but mostly it's about content.  There needs to be a framework for 
the creation of this content, but it's not a program of itself -- at 
some level, you're actually programming Squeak when you are 
making something.  And though Squeak is, in this case, being 
used as a developement platform, it's also being used by students.

Ian Bicking <bickiia@earlham.edu>