[Edu-sig] Rapunsel, Rapunsel

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Sat Apr 1 17:35:26 CEST 2006

> Personally, I don't think Python *is* in the Alice, Scratch, Rapunsel space
> or *belongs* in that space or is competitive in that space.
> Which happens to be more than fine with me.
> Art

I think you don't have strong rapport with puppetry and the many
conceptual similarities of programming to puppeting.

When you go to a theater they hand you a "programme" and the actors
are scripted in more ways than one.

MVC design patterns apply (the director is a controller, working off a
screenplay or storyboard, the view is what the audience takes in, and
the model is the assets on stage, be they animated characters, live
actors or whatever -- and lets not forget scenery).

Autobio:  growing up in Rome, we'd go to Piazza Navona around
Christmas time (I'd love to go again) and I'd get clay puppets, maybe
with just a wire from the head, but well crafted and the whole cast
for some story e.g. you could buy 'Little Red Riding Hood' as a clump,
complete with wolf, grandma and the rest of it.

Then I'd stage shows for my younger sister, complete with taped sound
track (early cassette recorder) and lighting.

There's nothing more natural than using object oriented syntax,
including Python's, to drive animations, e.g. actor1 = RidingHood(),

Python *is* competitive in this space, if only because the bindings
might be to C# or C++ routines that are fast and efficient in their
use of computer memory and resources.

Python-the-language doesn't get all the credit for making the action
smooth, but it *does* get a lot of credit when it comes to smoothing
the surrounding pedagogy, making cybertheater a reality for many more
children and adults than ever before.  And per my Shuttleworth Summit
paper (URL given previously), I'm all for keeping a fantasy life alive
and kicking (a dying imagination is no use in math, either, so best we
keep it well fed and happy).

This isn't a genre you need to specialize in or make your niche, but I
don't see the point in fighting it as somehow an anathema to
everything Python stands for.  That's very parochial, not to mention a
losing battle.

I'm all for strict, stark and austere mathematical stuff in its proper
context, and we shouldn't  drop that, not ever.  But this isn't an
either/or proposition.  I intend to invest in both approaches myself.

As I mentioned a little while back, I'm inspired by IronPython's
access to the little characters that ship with Microsoft Office and so
on.  That's a primitive beginning, but more inspiring than Alice,
which was never much about teaching Python per se, even when it was
implemented in Python.

I'd rather do puppets where the scripting language is indeed purely
Pythonic, not some one-off language customized to just this one
application (some goes for when the subject is pure geometry).  It's
the simplicity of Python itself which I like.

We don't lose that just because of all the dancing bears.  Given your
experience with VPython (a theater for shapes), I'd think you'd be
among the first to appreciate that fact.  So what if the object is a
Nemo type clown fish instead of a polyhedron (come to think of it, a
clown fish *is* a polyhedron).


More information about the Edu-sig mailing list