I attended CodeConf last weekend in San Francisco but did not know speaker Jeremy Ashkenas. Having enjoyed literary theory classes in college, I was somewhat skeptical at the title of his talk, “Can code be literature?”
Ashkenas walks through reasoning that is not so much a proof or argument but a thoughtful perspective on the ideas of famous computer scientists Edsger Dijkstra and Donald Knuth.
Ashkenas received the strongest applause of CodeConf and I saw one programmer so moved he gave a standing ovation.
Available below is the audio from that talk. The quality is so-so but improves around the 10:45 mark. It’s worth the half hour.
A very good case for demanding open source in public schools:
Educators have been called upon throughout history to combat censorship imposed by various powers over the flow of information. The censorship being applied today comes in the form of licenses that lock away the tools to build the information age and laws that limit fair use in ways that are unprecedented in the modern era. The powers imposing this censorship attempt to create an artificial scarcity of information and the tools to work with that information to feed their greed. Where would education be today if, for example, the mechanism and idea of the Gutenberg press were not only hidden, but protected by threat of dire punishment under the law if anyone dared to attempt to “reverse engineer” it?
The rest of the article is just as good and contains dozens of links to similar resources.
(The quote above is Copyright 2001-2007 Terry Vessels.)