Sunday, October 28, 2007

Forward 40: What Became of the LOGO Programming Language?

This post may not be what you expect from the headline.
Forty years ago, researchers developed a programming language that would become a brilliant educational tool.

As I remember it, LOGO was a triangular turtle that roamed across the monochrome screen of an Apple II in my first grade classroom. Wherever he went, a line of ink would follow him -- it came from a pen that was tied to his tail.

My digital friend simultaneously gave me an intuition for geometry and how to think like a computer programmer.

I would type FORWARD 50 and the turtle would move forward. When I gave the command RIGHT 90, he would turn sharply to the right. If I prefaced those two commands with REPEAT 4 and surrounded them with brackets, the turtle would draw a square.

I was learning, but my experiences didn't feel like a lesson. It was fun!

While I sat at my desk one day, two of my classmates figured out how to overwrite the entire screen, which seemed kinda naughty at the time. They giggled, did it again, then giggled some more. From curious children, hackers were born.

The reason for this post is to explore hacking.

Years ago I got into a civilized, albeit at times semi-heated, discussion with a fellow programmer (far superior to me) about hacking.

His position was hacking is always wrong, period. My contention was it amounted to natural curiosity and a challenge. I couldn't condemn it if it didn't do any harm.

As an example of what I'm talking about is a hack years ago that changed the front page of the New York Times. Sorry, no link. But the hacker(s) changed the headlines and it was actually pretty funny. No harm no foul.

Hacking a government sight to post a story about how it is the intent of the government to abolish Social Security or eliminate elections could be funny too.

My preference would be for the hackers to save the original code and restore the site after a period of time because correcting what they've done can be annoying and tedious, not to mention somewhat costly, but I'm a dreamer.

Via Wired.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Ted Compton said...

Hacking a government sight to post a story about how it is the intent of the government to abolish Social Security or eliminate elections could be funny too.

What? That was a hack?

10/28/2007 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger spiiderweb™ said...

HAHAHA!!!1!! I sure hope so.

10/28/2007 06:47:00 PM  

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