Future of Coding

66 • A Small Matter of Programming by Bonnie Nardi


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This community is a big tent. We welcome folks from all backgrounds, and all levels of experience with computers. Heck, on our last episode, we celebrated an article written by someone who is, rounding down, a lawyer! A constant question I ponder is: what’s the best way to introduce someone to the world of FoC? If someone is a workaday programmer, or a non-programmer, what can we share with them to help them understand our area of interest?

A personal favourite is the New Media Reader, but it’s long and dense. An obvious crowd-pleaser is Inventing on Principle.

Bonnie Nardi’s A Small Matter of Programming deserves a place on the list, especially if the reader is already an avid programmer who doesn’t yet understand the point of end-user programming. They might ask, “Why should typical computer users bother learning to program?” Well, that’s the wrong question! Instead, we should start broader. Why do we use computers? What do we use them to do? What happens when they don’t do what we want? Who controls what they do? Will this ever change? What change do we want? Nardi challenges us to explore these questions, and gives the reader a gentle but definitive push in a positive direction.

Next time, we’re… considered harmful?


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One meaning of “end-user programming” is about allowing people to build their own software. Another is about modifying existing software, and here are two interesting links related to this second meaning:

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