[Edu-sig] Tracing the Dynabook: A Dissertation

Arthur ajsiegel at optonline.net
Fri Jan 19 14:10:42 CET 2007

kirby urner wrote:

> So in my telling, the revolution hadn't really started yet in
> those early Wordstar and WordPerfect days.  That was an
> office culture revolution, a change of equipment, but had
> little to do with real computing or computer science *except*
> where so-called power users were concerned, with their
> spreadsheet macros, with their xBase.

Absolutely right, and importantly right. At least that is the story I 
*lived*, as well.

I was a business spreadsheet guy until by some miracle I was able to 
install on my computer - for free -  a powerful, see-through, big-boy 
operating system that was the standard fare of academics and scientists 
for decades.  *THAT HAD NO INTERFACE* to speak of. That was not 
kidstuff, as was essentially everything else then available.

And with it I could plug into what the academics and scientists had been 
doing, because that is a culture more about the sharing of ideas and the 
competition of ideas than about the selling of ideas.

While Kay is a product, very much, of the corporate world - Apple, 
Disney, HP.  It shows in everything he is about.

You have hit the nail, pretty much on the head, on why I consider Kay a 

But it also means that to a good extent among the heroes of my story is 
the traditional academic world. I think of things like the Geometry 
Center at the University of Minnesota.  The power of the operating 
system that had descended from the heavens and that I could install on 
my 386 was the power to rejoin that world, to not be frozen out of a 
world of thinking for thinking's sake.

Which is why I balk at a Python conference that emphasizes matters of 
education and clumsily freezes out the academics.

My *insistence* on certain things is that we are in fact talking about 
things *lived*, not imagined.  The history with Kay at or near its 
epicenter is very much *not* the history I lived. I do not believe, in 
fact, it exists in the way the history is now being written.

One doesn't need to be particularly perceptive to know what one lived.

But the elders must tell the story, and must tell it right.


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