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Academic non-academic reflection on Squeak's potential
One of the things that somewhat amazes me is that there are several mail-lists for people interested in Squeak, on which there is quite a lot of traffic, much of which is quite interesting .... but most that happens around and about Squeak remains limited to its user-community (most of whom will strike "normal" computer-users as "hackers"), its mail-lists, and the various Swikis for Squeak.
It is difficult to judge well what manner of people are working on or with Squeak, even from the mail-lists - by which I mean that one usually does not get information about age, academic qualifications, courses taught if any etc.
And no doubt there are many kinds of people working with Squeak, from people in their 60-ies with several Ph.D.'s to people in their teens not yet in college, and from people extra-ordinarily knowledgeable about Squeak, Smalltalk or computing, to people who never programmed before.
Now what amazes me somewhat is that their seem to be quite a few academics - people with M.A. degrees or better, somehow connected to some university - working with Squeak, but in actual fact it seems hardly any university other than Georgia Tech in the U.S.A. systematically provides courses on Squeak. And it seems mostly the same outside the U.S.
The ONE way to get Squeak REALLY going - it would seem to me - is to put one's academic enthusiasms on Squeak's maillist into something academically real and functional: TRY TO GET SQUEAK TO BE PART OF THE ACADEMIC CURRICULUM IN YOUR UNIVERSITY!
After all: It IS open source; it IS marvellous; it IS fun; and lots of students might learn to program in it quite fast and quite easily - IF ONLY there is a regular curriculum, with good courses, good documentantion, recent books, CDs with recent versions and lots of good documentation etc.
So I would recommend if academics concerned with Squeak contemplate the question how to get Squeak into the normal university courses, especially in top-universities, like Yale and MIT in the U.S., and to have it included in the standard courses offered in computing.
For this is by far the best way to give Squeak a place inside the universities and academic world; to make it known, popular and teach it; and to get intelligent people working with it.
And as long as this does not happen, Squeak is bound to remain an effort by a few handfuls of enthusiast hacking types, that remains almost unconnected to "the Real World" of C and Java, that are taught in very many universities (and seem to me mostly a waste of time, for nearly anyone, and to be no real fun for hardly anyone).
In short: It seems to me very unlikely to get a major new computing language as Squeak indeed is (being Smalltalk + Morphic) going in a major way without getting it taught in standard courses in universities.
So if there is one thing "the Squeak community" should try, next to developing Squeak, it is to give it a firm footing inside the academic world and inside ordinary courses in computing and programming.
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