A place to grow programmers?

A friend of mine asked me for a job recommendation.  He got the job, so I’ll assume that anything I said about him didn’t hurt him.  Today, I talked to him.  He is managing the JetPack project for Mozilla Labs. After he mentioned it today, I went to look at it.  After poking around a bit, I have to say, it is some exciting stuff.

Jetpack is a project to make it easy to build Firefox 4 add-ons using common web technologies like HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. Our goal is to enable anyone who can build a web site to participate in making the Web a better place to work, communicate, and play. 

I’ve been thinking about some ways to start getting my kids into programming (yes, still).  I believe one of the most important things to start children in programming.  This comes from recalling my own youthful start on a Commodore 64 and then a more “business-y” TRS-80 Model 4p, both of which came with BASIC interpreters, both of which had magazines published for them that were filled with pages of BASIC to type in and run. My parent’s recently gave me back a copy of  BASIC Computer Language: It’s Easier Than You Think!.  This past weekend, in a fit of Father/Son bonding, I installed a copy of SmallBasic and let my son go at it.  He read a few chapters but went straight to the back to type in the castle program.  I had to help him convert the graphics code, but it didn’t take long before he was trying a few different things on there. BASIC is long gone.  Visual Basic is all tied up in the Bill Gates mentality and, as a righteous freetard, I can’t let my son develop those sorts of defaults.  His school is already doing the job well enough by getting them to use PowerPoint. So, instead of BASIC, I think JavaScript — a language that gives instant gratification, is on every desktop, and has sample programs all over the web — is probably as close as I can get to the heady days of programming I remember from my own youth. Why do I want to teach them?  I could give you the pragmatic explanation that dvfmama has: they’ll be surrounded by computers all their lives, they may as well understand how to get them to do things.  And there is that.  It is just part of being a modern, literate person to have some understanding of programming — whether that programming happens on a spreadsheet or a web page.  But more than that, I remember feeling a thrill and thinking “Wow, look what I made the computer do!” Honestly, I don’t want my children to miss out on that thrill. So, I’m gonna take a look at JetPack this weekend.  Let’s see what it can do.

3 thoughts on “A place to grow programmers?”

  1. have you looked a Processing? it seems like a great teaching tool, and starts creating visual programming output a lot faster than a lot languages.

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