[Edu-sig] generic open source projects...

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Sat Sep 5 16:26:54 CEST 2009

On Sat, Sep 5, 2009 at 3:25 AM, Laura Creighton<lac at openend.se> wrote:
>>What I need to find out before going too far with this is:
>>(a) do we already have exactly what I'm seeking as a public project?
> Not that I know of.  And given that after 'I want to make a game' this
> is the number 1 thing that children I meet want to learn programming
> to do -- find out when their favourite websites change so they won't
> miss anything but don't have to go there every day, I would predict
> that this project would have a lot of mass appeal.  But I think
> that Ian Bicking has written and released code that would be
> useful.

I would like to develop buzz about a buzzbot as a way to glue some
conversations together among these contemporaries who meet now and
then, at Pycons etc., at user groups, but then what's holding us
together otherwise?  Python and the culture of geekdom, including open
source aspects, is pretty powerful, as are the many project worlds
using it (Zope, Plone, Scipy, Numpy, VPython and so on and so forth --
a rich and diverse set of partially overlapping worlds).

>>(b) will I be able to find schools that want to turn students loose on
>>this scaffolding?
> No clue.  But I would have a hard time finding non-university schools
> interested around here.

Students would be interested.  It's fun to boot a Python interactive
shell, import a few things, and be talking to distant servers,
downloading XHTML, hearing lore about WWW and TBL, the birth of Linux,
of Windows, of OSX... lots of twisted tales.

Given the math teaching culture has turned its back on technology, is
perversely fiddling with calculators while Rome smolders (it finished
burning awhile ago), we might have more luck in sociology or English

Alphanumeracy skills and communications skills are what we're talking
about.  Nerds don't get to monopolize on that score as other types
need those too.  P4E probably means *not* waiting for either math or
computer science teachers to do their jobs (which would involve better
integration of programming and math teaching -- so far, both
subcultures are too retarded to make much headway (English teachers
any fasters?  Maybe so.)).

Actually, at the university level I'm thinking philosophy departments
may eventually prove useful.  They're stuck using dark ages "logic" at
the moment (cryptic gizmos from Frege's and Russell's day), but this
isn't a stable picture.

>>(c) are we looking at a real project like on Sourceforge, or just a
>>set of interconnected examples that feature aspects of Python?
> Well, I would like to make the buzz bot understand something like
> 'other language plugins' from the start.  Maybe we need some
> linguistic-trained people? or would just a good sampling of people
> who speak other languages from the onset work?

Absolutely.  This is where Patrick was heading, going for Japanese.

I am likewise wanting these Python user groups within schools to
appear around Asia, as I consider this the technology center
(Singapore a hub).

English will remain important, but non Latin-1 coding is going to take
off here shortly.

The fact that English is the official language for the development of
Python itself is no barrier to doing 3rd party module work with only
the key words, even with "self" swapped out for some ideogram (might
as well take advantage of the feature of it's not being a key word).

>>This proposal is in part a response to Laura's CP4E work on the
>>Diversity list.  She's been suggesting that a primary barrier to
>>increasing diversity is simply the daunting time demands, the somewhat
>>austere culture of half-moribund bug trackers and dev lists (some of
>>these are more like sunken shipwrecks) -- scares people away,
>>especially people who "have a life" outside of being uber-nerds.
> Ah, in context, I think this scares them away from Python Core Development;
> I am sure that there are other projects which have other reasons
> that are the primary reason for lack of diversity.

I would discourage Python Core Development as a first target for
anyone.  Learn Python first, not C.  Diversity is increasing at a far
greater rate 3rd party module world than in either core development
world or standard library world.

>>The fancier buzzbots fork into multiple Python worker bee processes
>>that each harvest and file to SQL independently, with a Dispatcher
>>(queen bee) keeping track of open searches, handing them off to
>>available processes.  I published some manga code to the Chicago user
>>list awhile back, haven't tried to dig for it yet...
> Speaking of manga - an image-scraper-and-recogniser would be awesome.
> But I don't know how to write one of those, at all.  Wonder who does?
> Laura

Scraper in the sense of capturing as a blob ain't so bad but
"recognizer" in a generic sense is well beyond the capabilities of
today's computer science, although it's really easy to impose
constraints (e.g. bar code reader) that make recognition super easy.

I watched a company go down in the dot com crash because the CEO was
saying his "nanny ware" (used to keep kids from seeking naked people
among other things) would "recognize" the bad stuff in advance of
loading the page, vs. hitting against a database of verboten sites or
domains (the usual filtering technique).  I knew this was probably not
in the cards but was only watching from a distance.

The thing about this buzz bot is Patrick already has working code, as
do many web trendy type marketing and PR firms, so we're not talking
any pie in the sky technology.  It's not a question of "do we have
it?" but rather "do we want to open source it and share it with
schools?"  Of course the latter is up to the schools more than us, and
they have a track record of being slave ships, especially more
recently, with the spike in censorship, other illegal (criminal)
activities (if publicly run).


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