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Re: [olpc-software] AbiWord, HIG



On 3/15/06, Alan Kay <alan kay squeakland org> wrote:
> Hi Mike --
>
> At 05:05 PM 3/15/2006, Mike Hearn wrote:
> >On Wed, 2006-03-15 at 16:34 -0800, Alan Kay wrote:
> > > It's worth pondering just why large portions of the computer community
> > > didn't build on the best designs (and still don't) ... This wouldn't be
> > > tolerated in any real science or engineering discipline ...
> >
> >Well, ignoring that 'best design' is subjective, the industry is still
> >pretty young and has a short memory.
>
> It's about the same age as Molecular Biology ~ 50+ years. `Plenty long
> enough. Why a short memory? Ironic, don't you think?
>

Because computer science is equal parts black magic to science even to
the people who do the deep science. Molecular biology builds off of a
ton of stuff that is repeatable.. I have had too many computers as a
kid where doing XYZ algorithm worked as described half the time, and
the other half didnt... add an extra NOOP and poof it works. This
leads to a stronger belief system than in say Physics (though I have
seen PhD's come to fists after a 'discussion' about closed/open
universe models). People going to MIT take this philosophical
approach, while people at Stanford take a different one and people
going to UIUC end up with something that makes the other 2 look sane.

It is like if physics were different every 20 miles when you did experiments.

> >  The X11 protocol was designed at
> >about the same time I was learning to talk :)
>
> So Engelbart did his stuff before you were born, but so did Newton. The
> physicists understand why paying attention to the best stuff is important
> (good ideas are hard to come by). This is why Tim was somewhat sheepish --
> as a physicist he would not have ignored prior art in Physics, nor would
> the field have let him, he just made the wrong assumption that there was no
> prior art in computing that needed to be heeded.
>
> The Mosaic stuff is more problematical since it was done in the context of
> decades of personal computing, all of which preserved the symmetry between
> consumption and authoring. How could they have missed what was important here?
>
>

I worked with several of the Mosaic people at one point.. to those
guys it seemed to come  down to a "ok lets do something so that we can
look at the CERN stuff." It went from there to being "wow everyone is
downloading this now how do we fix it?" Most of these kids were 18-20
years old and doing this in their spare time.


--
Stephen J Smoogen.
CSIRT/Linux System Administrator


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