Saturday, February 18, 2006

Don't tell me, show me, showmedo

I recently opined the general dearth in the use of the Web as a vehicle for explaining/detailing complex phenomena that involve movement, 3-D views and so on. Stuff that no amount of colour plates or line art in paper-illustrations can ever match.

Interactive software of the GUI persuasion is a good example of this. No amount of screen shots can come close to actually looking over someones shoulder and watching them do something.

So, I applaud initiatives like showmedo and wish them every success. I'm sure the Python training videos will be a big hit.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

AJAX - nearly 2007 already

One of my pet theories is that no idea in computing every really takes off until at least ten years after it has been first hatched. XML goes back to the Eighties. So too does Python.

Would you trace AJAX back ten years yet? Its getting there believe it or not.

Back in 1997 Jon Bosak wrote about the slogan "XML gives Java something to do". http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/sun-info/standards/xml/why/xmlapps.htm.

He was talking about client/server computing, browsers etc.

But the "J" in AJAX is "JavaScript" right.

Right.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Eliot Kimber Bloggeth

    "Maybe next I'll discuss why all XML content management systems are, without exception, heinous piles of [elided] that should be avoided at all costs...."--Eliot Kimber

Eliot has been doing markup stuff for longer than nearly anyone else, me included. Subscribed.

If the talk titles are anything to go by...

...waterfall 2006 should be blast.
Here are some of my favourites:

  • Pair Managing: Two Managers per Programmer
  • User Interaction: It Was Hard to Build, It Should Be Hard to Use
  • Slash and Burn: Rewrite Your Enterprise Applications Twice a Year
  • Very Large Projects: How to Go So Slow No One Knows You'll Never Deliver
  • Making Outsourcing Work: One Team Member per Continent
  • Refuctoring [Sounds even better than it scans. SMG. ]
  • Ruby On Snails: Slow Down Development With This New Framework

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ultimately, all semantic identifiers are incorrect

Stuart Weibel talks about that old nugget, the globally unique persistent identifier.

In Kripke-speak, this is a rigid designator.

It is very appealing to embue rigid designators with semantics. Sometimes by making them proper nouns. Sometimes by making them intensional.

The hard problem is finding any semantic that is rigid through time and in all possible contexts. Hence the magnetic pull towards opaque identifiers such as numbers.

The Web is a wonderful example of what happens when you let everyone loose to create their own identification schemes. Identifiers are social constructs. The problem of identification is ultimately a problem of language.

Human language is surface chaos with a consistent underlying form. As byproducts of language, we should not be surprised that identifer systems are similarly chaotic on the surface.

Utterances are always a rich steamy broth of the extensional and the contextual. The context bit is what makes us human. We take short-cuts in utterances all the time. That is the context.
Obviously, this drives computers mad because computers don't do context.

It also drives non-computing folk mad because they cannot see why the heck the computer cannot just use the context like everyone else.

Computing is a fun field :-)

The library IS the programming language