Considering children as the users radiates a compelling excitement when viewed from a number of different perspectives. First, the children really can write programs that do serious things. Their programs use symbols to stand for objects, contain loops and recursions, require a fair amount of visualization of alternative strategies before a tactic is chosen, and involve interactive discovery and removal of “bugs” in their ideas.
One young girl, who had never programmed before, decided that a pointing device ought to let her draw on the screen. She then built a sketching tool without ever seeing ours. She constantly embellished it with new features including a menu for brushes selected by pointing. She later wrote a program for building tangram designs.
As I read this article by Alan Kay and Adele Goldberg, I was struck with the pure genius of using a child’s input for the creation of these technologies and programs. A higher awareness of the world gave them the ability to see things from a different perspective. Also, why not let the large population of users have an input in the program they will be using? Everyone who puts Facebook, Instagram, Microsoft, Windows etc. to use most likely has something that they would change about the program/software that the manufacturer doesn’t necessarily see or think about. As young adults, Bill Gates and Paul Allen come up with the idea of Microsoft. I would like to think that they saw the slow and mistake-ridden process of typewriting and envisioned a more productive and user friendly method. The number of young inventors throughout history is astounding and backs up something that I believe Kay and Goldberg realized. The younger generation is an “expressive power”.