Saturday, August 19, 2006

ToonTown Revisited

I've just had a long thread with the M community, looking ahead at the VA, which hosts a gigantic M-based records system. In each special case, one might say "replace it", but really we don't have the luxury of replacing everything on one watch, with the one crew, so of necessity we perpetuate a complement of FORTRAN and COBOL programs, to name just two in a veritable dinotopia of still-necessary languages.

Listening to Glenn ramble about Sumerians on Meliptus this afternoon rekindled my hope that we'll attract humanities types interested on diving deeply into a couple of rarified technologies, sufficiently deeply to take to the bank now and then.

Being good at M would be a sign of erudition on a par with knowing something ancient and Mesopotamian. But maybe you're also literally a deep sea diver, say in Fiji. The Internet lets us permute lifestyles more freely. For example, I'd like to commit source from an on-wheels company office, just like I do from our more geographically rooted Portland Knowledge Lab.

You don't have to peg your whole identity to this M language business, but you still proudly wear the badge. Or maybe it's your fluency in J you're strutting (I'm still a lightweight in J, and don't even register on the M-scale at this point).

To this thread I contributed my vision of Portland as a source of "how to" videos, funneling input from private industry, government and universities regarding their key education needs, and coming back with highly produced, information-dense screencasts, some of them cram-packed with computer science.

Some will be high definition, since they include looking at symbol dances, source code, and we don't want people to have to squint.

We'll need lots of animations around the different paradigms or models, to go with this or that live or dead language. GT.M isn't Zope isn't Oracle, yet all three are implementations of the "database" concept. When it comes to record-keeping, humans have been extremely inventive over the years. Civilization depends on accurate record-keeping, after all. We need to keep getting better at it, not worse.

Speaking of Glenn Stockton, his "global matrix" (akin to Bucky's "geometry of nature") was in the news again today: more naturally occuring chicken wire, showing up on Slashdot within my sparely furnished Google search pane (what I call "home" in Firefox).