[Edu-sig] Tracing the Dynabook: A Dissertation

John Maxwell jmax at sfu.ca
Fri Jan 19 01:42:49 CET 2007


Over the past few years, I have been working on a historical study on  
Alan Kay's Dynabook vision and how it has played out over the past  
three and a half decades. This has been part of my PhD work in  
education at the University of BC -- as such, I am working from an  
educational perspective, rather than a compsci one. I recently  
(November 2006) finished the dissertation and successfully defended  
it, and so I'm posting this in the hopes that some of you will find  
some value in it.

I've been reading this edu-sig list since its inception, and in the  
past 6 months or so I've noticed an enormous surge of interest in  
(and controversy around) Squeak and Alan Kay's Dynabook concept. I've  
been reading these discussions with great interest, as much of it  
touches directly on what I've been writing.

While I haven't written about Python per se in my dissertation, it is  
implicitly there for the simple reason that Python has been my own  
language of choice for the past 4 or 5 years; much of what Paul  
Fernhout written recently about appreciating Smalltalk while still  
finding Python more practical is very close to my own experience.

The entire work is roughly 300 pages. This link leads to a PDF of  
just under 2 megabytes. At some point, if I have some time, I want to  
break this out into some more granular web pages, but I'm already  
late in releasing it, so here it is in its entirety. You can find it  
(along with a brief abstract and ToC) at:


I'm very interested in any comments you might have.

  - John Maxwell
    Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing
    Simon Fraser University
    jmax at sfu.ca

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