"COMPUTER POWER TO THE PEOPLE! DOWN WITH CYBERCRUD!" - Theodor Nelson
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Things That Make You Smart
I started reading "Things That Make You Smart" by Donald Norman and one paragraph struck a chord with me:
When technology is not designed from a human-centered point of view, it doesn't reduce the incidence of human error nor minimize the impact when errors do occur. Yes, people do indeed err. Therefore the technology should be designed to take this well-known fact into account. Instead, the tendency is to blame the person who errs, even though the fault might lie with the technology, even though to err is indeed very human.
Now, read this quote from James Gosling that I took from the introduction, by Richard Gabriel, to "Successful Lisp" by David Lamkins:
Very dynamic languages like Lisp, TCL, and Smalltalk are often used for prototyping. One of the reasons for their success at this is that they are very robust...Another reason...is that they don't require you to pin down decisions early on. Java has exactly the opposite property, it forces you to make choices explicitly
Contrast it with the following quote from Niall Ross during his keynote speech at Smalltalk Solutions:
... back to language comparison: static-typing is the ultimate up-front optimisation
We, Smalltalkers, Lispers, and dynamic language lovers everywhere, embrace the human in all of us and make the machine conform to us not the other way around. We understand that we err and we're not going to get it right upfront. But, Java and the static hounds think that we should blame the programmer for being human. Make the language easy for the computer and not the poor programmer. And right there, I think you have the split between the two camps. One is machine-centric (Java, C, C++, C#, etc) and the other is human-centric (Smalltalk, Lisp, Ruby, Self, Python, Io, Slate, etc). I know which one I pick. Sad thing is that we've had these human-centric languages since 1960 (or was it 1958?).
I can't wait to read the rest of the book!