[Edu-sig] 3d and Python

Kirby Urner urnerk at qwest.net
Thu Oct 21 16:57:21 CEST 2004

> I'm  implying more than that.  I'm implying big money's interest in the
> privatization of education = not selling CDs here and there. I was
> actually sympathetic to the idea of vouchers and the like until I began 
> to get an idea of what it would mean when the Big Boys got into the act. 
> And convinced that the Big Boys would become the act. Fast food.

OK, that's a reasonable objection.  My model is more like the defense
industry.  The government still writes specs, provides the front line
theater, and the prime contractors compete (sometimes) to fulfill them.  In
the USA at least, but also globally, you need a commitment to open source
and cross-platform, as well as to standards, which unbridled free enterprise
would not naturally produce in a million years.

> You had asked, I think, about the Panda3D presentation at PyCon at one
> point. I'm not sure if my reply made it here.
> Panda3D is s Disney creation.  The creators acknowledged that they were
> under some pressure to make Squeak its scripting mechanism.  They ended up
> using Python however, finding there was too much ideological baggage
> attached to "doing business" with Squeak.  Their interest - and I think
> that they were greatly successful - was to create an Open Source, 
> industrial strength Entertainment Engine. The end.

Yes, I've been looking at Panda3D.  You seem OK with it, and Disney was
behind it.  Is it that you think Python comes with less ideological baggage
than Squeak, or that the expected end result was different (i.e. Panda3D was
not aimed at any kind of curriculum take-over).  Given your ability to
imagine diabolical, dystopian futures (a talent I don't sneeze at), I'm sure
you can think of scenarios involving Python which would illuminate all your
warning lights and set off alarm bells.
> Disney should be commended for understanding the advantages of open
> sourcing this effort, for understanding the sense of using Python for it, 
> and for understanding that we look to them to take the forefront when it 
> comes to this kind of technology. And mostly, in my opinion, for being 
> unambiguous about what Panda3D is intended to be about.
> Art

OK, I have no problem with this.  Basically, we both see ways for big money
to become involved in tool-making that's not corrupting.  Your warning
lights are triggered by "fast food": slick packaging, high on GUI fat, low
on mental protein.  We need criteria analogous to the food pyramid, advice
from curriculum dieticians, to help us rate products on this spectrum (on
the job at McGraw-Hill, I saw some of these advisory studies -- I believe
constructivism, currently in vogue with the NCTM and NSF, got a big boost
from studies recommending the open-ended "play & explore" software, versus
"electronic page turners").


More information about the Edu-sig mailing list