Oct 282005

I was late to Resnick’s talk. Lunch. But it was recorded. Though what I saw was pretty good. It is all covered at his group’s homepage …lifelong kindergarten is a badass name. I’m jealous. Though I don’t want to go back to grad school. Enough was enough.

Still, it is great seeing him still doing what he loves – he is the goofy academic that’s pursuing his dreams and spreading knowledge. But he’s practical and well grounded. He got Intel to sponsor their Computer Clubhouses and now there’s over 100 of them in 20 countries. Here’s a nerd making a difference.

And yet, there are some people in the audience that want to ask questions like “what have you done to change some of the governments of some of those countries?”? But Resnick took it like a gentleman (or an academic – did I mention how useful the phrase “future work” is?) and didn’t let the guy’s attitude phase him.

He’s done a lot since Turtles…and it is different stuff too. All coming back to the idea of making the children the designers. Teaching them to design. To be creative. Being able to memorize is one thing, being able to create is another. All his projects stress that. But in different ways. Very neat.

Because kids are becoming more visual – they’ve been working on a graphical programming language/environment where kids can create dynamic applications based on…media. Images. Turned out that yeah, imaginary turtles and legos only go so far with kids. But once they get a picture of things they like on the computer – they start creating in completely new ways. But photoshop creates static results. And Flash – well, it’s neat, but kids aren’t gonna learn Actionscript (I don’t know if anyone should…but it pays the bills right now.)

So they’ve built up an app that allows kids to use graphical building blocks to define programatic behavior so that they can build apps. To make a cat run around the screen. To do various filters (color, blends, blurs, whirls, etc) on pictures of themselves and friends…to create.

It’s not the end all application, but he’s building up suites of apps – Logo simulations, Lego robots, graphical programming environments – all helping kids foster the innate creativity they have inside. And the dude is brilliant enough to recognize there is no killer app – but that each app will help kids differently and it fails for kids differently – and he spends time thinking up new ways to address his suite’s failures. He’s tackling a huge problem and not settling…in fact, he probably knows the weaknesses of his approaches better than anyone. And he attacks those weaknesses instead of trying to sweep them under the rug.

Plus he likes cartoons of himself. Is that a caricature? More props.

Wonderful stuff. Big warm fuzzy feeling inside listening to him. I was one of those idiots that just nods their head the whole time. Enjoying every point he was making. Felt great.

It was inspifreakingrational.

But what am I going to do?

And you?

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