Wiki Wednesday: Yoz Grahame on “Folk Logic”

Wiki Wednesday - Yoz speaks

[ Not quite live-blogged from Wiki Wednesday at Citizen Space; I took notes live, then kind of cleaned them up. ]

Yoz Grahame is apparently my long-lost twin, at least judging by the violence of my nodding all through his talk.

He launched his talk on “Folk Logic” — how people learn to program through cargo cult and social interaction — with this example:

20 GOTO 10

… as seen on the consoles of every early-80s home computer displayed in shops. You’d see this on the screen, think “Wow, how did Trevor do that? Can I do that?” And next thing you know you’d be programming. Ah, memories.

This is the first time Yoz has given this talk, and it wasn’t taped, but we’re trying to talk him into giving it again at BarCamp next week, so I’ll post links to video when it becomes available. In the meantime, a few notes…

Programming environments to teach kids the concepts:

* Logo (as used in the dark ages i.e. my childhood; download link: ACSLogo for OSX)
* Scratch (super sexy! Here’s a YouTube video demo.)
* Hackety-hack (Ruby for ages 13+)
* ToonTalk (mice with hammers!)

An interesting paper: Folk Programming. Researchers gave kids little computing devices to watch the spread of programs between them.

I thought at this point that Yoz was going to talk about One Laptop Per Child, but he didn’t. We talked about it after, but no real insights I’m afraid.

Yoz outlines the following rules/attributes for Folk Logic Platforms:

* Create your own code
* View, clone, and modify someone else’s code
* Free, always-on, ubiquitous hosting
* Huge array of diverse data sources/objects
* Code creates new data for use by others

Folk computing platforms today, suitable for use by beginners:

* Yahoo Pipes
* Ning
* Second Life

“Cloning” folk software: sharing applets on a folk computing platform (eg Ning). Wonder if it’s possible to do that outside of a centralised hosted environment? Kragen asks the same question (I think).

What’s the most widespread folk computing platform? With my mighty psychic powers I guessed it before he showed the slide: *Excel*. People write and cargo-cult Excel macros without considering themselves “programmers”. Meanwhile, some crazy people write things like Cellvader.

I was left wondering — mostly — about how to implement Folk Programming in a non-centralised environment. Wouldn’t it be cool if web apps (WordPress for example) had cloneable plugins/widgets that were as easy to add as Facebook applications and as easy to modify and learn from as Yahoo Pipes?