By reason of the small people who live in my house I watch more Jimmy Neutron than is good for me ("Brain Blast, I've got it!"). While planning this summer's obligatory costume party (the final Harry Potter book), a contrast drawn between JRR Tolkien and JK Rowling stuck. Tolkien and "small people" come on the heels of David Brin's "Why Johnny Can't Code". Hang on...
I recommend reading David Brin's article in full. It is well-written and provocative - no attempt will be made to introduce the full song here. However, consider this tune:
...quietly and without fanfare, or even any comment or notice by software pundits, we have drifted into a situation where almost none of the millions of personal computers in America offers a line-programming language simple enough for kids to pick up fast. Not even the one that was a software lingua franca on nearly all machines, only a decade or so ago. And that is not only a problem for Ben and me; it is a problem for our nation and civilization.
Lambda the Ultimate offers a smart technical discussion on the relative merits of Basic (or Logo, RUR-PLE, Scheme, PASCAL, or fascinatingly, 3d CAD languages). Slashdot also offers its usual broad range.
Rather than going to any of those places now, what has got me pegged to this keyboard this late evening is the Tolkien one I heard earlier: whether or not LOTR is "better" than Harry Potter it does at least portrays a more complete world. I take the argument to be a technical one: LOTR has more pieces crafted to fit together tightly. More pieces with more laws governing their fittings, I presume, means a more convincing world.
In the Ruby Slipper discussion, a point raised by Greg on Why Johnny Can't Code seems too good to let go. Does the creator of a game, the programmer of its code, understand its world better than a mere-consumer can ever? Perhaps a mere-consumer has fewer reasons to understand the pieces and their laws, however contrived. And perhaps contrived laws and components are better than none at all. It also likely doesn't help that Johnny never reads the manual.
I've always wondered what Jimmy Neutron's parents did. Perhaps if I were forced to write their LUA scripts in that plastic world of theirs, we might even get along.