About Hackety.org

May 3rd 18:57
by why

Hackety.org is a blog by _why. I try to cover any kind of crossover between culture and code. I’m not so interested in acronyms and technobuzz. I’m more into how hacking weaves into life. (And education: how more people can learn it, enjoy learning it more.)

Think of how often ordinary people type http:// into a browser! That’s hacking, friends. It’s an obscure code that has found its way into the mainstream. Can’t you see the tremors of the infectious hacking spirits, breaking their way into everything??

The Art and Code Community

Casey Reas: As you know, programming has always been relegated to the science and engineering parts of campus. And we’re trying to — and we’re working with a lot of other people — to build a programming culture unique to the arts.

Yes, that’s the question. Can programming move outside of its place in business? Is it a more general, mind-expanding experience than that? Will there be an age of simple, beautiful programs that many more people can enjoy and understand? Likely the growing success of Processing and Scratch says something about that.

Now, it’s hard to put a line around everyone who’s bending programming in these directions, but a good start was the ART & CODE symposium at CMU, which gave voice to a lot of the efforts covered on this site. Visual toolkits like VVVV, Max/MSP and PureData. Art frameworks, such as openFrameworks, NodeBox, Design By Numbers, Context-Free and Processing. Educational software like Scratch, Hackety Hack and Alice.

Beyond those tools, you’ll find art hackers in gaming and film and design. But the heart of what I cover is open source code for producing totally gorgeous programs, particularly by amateurs and folks who haven’t even thought to call themselves programmers yet.

Children Banished From Code

Under the art and code umbrella, also falls the dearth of tools for child hackers. I want to see better tools for kids (and I happen to work on one such tool.) I don’t think we’ve found anything remotely close to ideal yet.

I often get e-mail saying that the HTML/CSS/JavaScript kit built into browsers is the answer. I hope you’ll excuse me, but I have a hard time believing kids have to learn three languages to start off! How does a kid make a song in HTML/JavaScript??

And what about Flash? Sure, if the kid’s got money, sure sure.

Another frequent answer is the OLPC and Squeak. These are noble efforts. And, in my mind, Scratch is the greatest spinoff from that world. These may very well be answers.

Certainly we have plenty of great tools and kids are resourceful, I just want to see more. And it’s an enjoyable topic to cover, so why not?