Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

I love Kay and you should absolutely read any of his recommendations or at least examine them with earnest. That said, I struggle to remember anything he's created or written that's moved the needle (my needle). I'm honestly not hating and I have way too much respect for him to say anything on this list is not worthwhile. But, in my experience, Kay has been one of those brilliant uncles who's (written) work never seems to approach the peripheries of my (self-guided) computer science study (or main stream relevance?). Obviously I've heard of and studied him but if you asked me at a bar "madebylaw is alan kay still relevant in computer science?"



> I struggle to remember anything he's created or written that's moved the needle

Well he helped created the first computer networked workstations, practically invented Object Oriented Programming, created the concepts of overlapping window management...

... I struggle to think of what needle your trying to move that wouldn't be moved by any of those.


Also, more recently, his work with the Squeak Smalltalk and Scratch communities, particularly regarding computer programming education for children, is certainly currently relevant. His is one of the finest minds I have yet experienced in person.


Your question, if flipped, can make for an interesting bridge.. What of modern computer science is relevant to Alan Kay?

His insights about this field and its potential, narrowed by his views that many of today's computer engineers have forgotten fundamental principles and practices of old, favoring instead popular trends of new, and that the Web was built by amateurs, I imagine, would yield a very interesting subset of ongoing work.


Yes, because we are yet to achieve a mainstream way of doing computing the way he and his peers have envisioned.

Although my IDEs are quite powerful, they are yet far from the Xerox PARC workstations experience used to feel like.

My tablet, even a Surface, aren't as easy to use or programmable in the same way as the Dynabooks were envisioned.

So yes, he is still relevant, because mainstream computing is still catching up to his vision.


Ouch, why did I say anything. Feel like a hater :-/


It might have been better phrased as a question. What do you mean by "still relevant to computer science"?

EDIT: from a brief read of his wikipedia page:

"Kay has lectured extensively on the idea that the computer revolution is very new, and all of the good ideas have not been universally implemented."

Coming from someone with multiple major accomplishments (OOP pioneer, smalltalk, overlapping window GUI, etc.), that's a powerful message that can still be applied today.


My thought is essentially a synthesis of Kay and Thiel.

Namely; much of the low hanging fruit has been ignored and much of the world is in a technological stagnation.

Separately they could be made to sound pessimistic, but together there is much reason for optimism.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: