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Comment: Does no one get it? (Score 2, Interesting) 799 799

Poll a few hundred English lit professors about which one novel you should start with to get a kid into the classics and you are going to get a few hundred very different and extremely opinionated answers. Put them all in the same room, and you'll get a lot of interesting arguments about it too.

My opinion? I've taught kids aged about 8-17 programming languages at summer computer camps for over 10 years, and I have otherwise been an educator for a while. Despite my own preferences and opinions, the truth is that unless you try to start someone out on INTERCAL, language doesn't matter. It's not like Bobby would have become a phenomenal programmer, except you erroneously chose Language X to start him off with, and he hated it, so he became a hair stylist instead.

If someone doesn't do well at all with C++, while BASIC for example might be less scary, in my experience it makes no difference to reapproach programming with the different language. At least as far as making a difference between having a real interest/performance, and the distinct lack thereof. If someone is going to "get" programming, they'll be able to get it with any common programming language. Period.

Furthermore, a kid's understanding of a programming language is going to depend much more on the quality of the tutoring/teaching/etc. methodologies, but that's another topic for another time.

Comment: Re:If it doesn't feel that illegal, people don't c (Score 1) 675 675

Probably should have lined up my pronouns better -- I was trying to say that regardless of the legitimacy of claims that "downloads don't lead to lost sales", people are going to download things illegally simply because it doesn't feel that illegal.

Comment: If it doesn't feel that illegal, people don't care (Score 1) 675 675

The fundamental problem with many "digital things" (like in this case, music and video files) is that there is a huge disconnect between their expected real-world analogs and the actual laws (both physical and legal) governing the digital-world in which they exist.

The fundamental technical know-how to write programs from scratch to make high-quality copies of media files is really pretty rare. Just the same way that say actually painting an excellent replica of a Rembrandt is something that very few people can do. The main difference is that once someone writes a program to copy media files (which may even be a perfectly legal commercial piece of software to begin with) the dissemination of such a program is absolutely trivial. Teaching the population how to paint stunning rip-offs of Rembrandts isn't just not trivial, it's impossible.

Yes, a few people talk of the myths of lost sales and such, but honestly that's all retrospective crap.

The truth is that psychologically, if you can do something with a couple clicks of a button while you sit at home eating potato chips in your living room, it doesn't feel that illegal, regardless of what the law is or isn't.

I'll even make a car analogy. Say that my mother holds the law in very high regard, even when it comes to piracy. If I go and visit her in a stolen car, she will at minimum yell at me quite profusely, and it wouldn't be unforeseeable that she might call the authorities. But if we go for a drive (in my own un-stolen car) and listen to things from my MP3 player, she wouldn't even think to ask if the music was procured legally. If I told her that it was all downloaded illegally, she may tell me that it isn't right, but she's still probably going to be listening to the music, and there's also no way she's reporting the illegal downloads to any authority.

"Experience has proved that some people indeed know everything." -- Russell Baker