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Demographics, target audience, the future...

Posted by daniel on February 25, 2004 at 7:43 AM PST

Kathy Sierra started a discussion on the Studio B CBP list by suggesting rather than speculating about which technical topics will be hot in the future, we should think instead about who the readers might be.

Chris Adamson links to her post in today's Weblogs. In The Kids Are Alright , Chris is struck by Kathy's observations on the impact of "the technical immersion of the next generation" and wonders about the implications of these tech savvy kids. His "21-month old can pick out his favorite movie on DVD or game and load it, label-side up, into the side-mounted PlayStation 2 and get it started." This trick astonished audiences twenty years ago with floppies and a PC replacing the DVD and PlayStation 2. Now we almost don't notice.

Kathy's post points out that classification of books is muddied as "computer" is not the topic but the tool. Books on Final Cut Pro might be in the computer section and in the media section. For interface design you may have to look in some parts of the computer section or in the Product and Industrial Design section. Tufte's visual information design books are not necessarily where you might look for them on the shelves. I spent a while in a local Borders looking for an iPhoto book to read Derrick Story's chapters on taking better pictures. I looked in photography and digital media. Finally using the instore locator I found the book shelved under Macintosh applications.

As our children grow up with easier access to computers, using them is less of a big deal. Years ago people were putting Microsoft Word or Word Perfect on their resumes to point out a special skill that they had. Now, you wouldn't dream of it. This is in part because Word and other such applications have become easier to use and also because their use is so wide spread.

Kathy describes her childrens' cohort all of whom " can
set-up a wireless home network without a manual, create web pages and blog, edit digital video with the same software used to edit Cold Mountain, compose and mix music digitally, and build sophisticated 3D graphics. They laugh hysterically (and then are insulted) if you try to call them geeks. They're just the typical shop-at-Urban-Outfitters kids. "

Kathy's slice of the world may not be typical, but her specific examples are not as important as her over all message. In the world she's describing, "kids would never call themselves (or one another) 'geeks'. I look at one and say, 'Wow, that kid is really into computers', and they smirk and say (sarcastically), 'That's as lame as saying someone is
really into cell phones' or 'Wow, that kid is really into VCRs!'"

In his latest blog entry, Simon Brown promotes his upcoming JSIG session : Java Development on Mac OS X. If you're in London, England on the 26th of March Simon and Sam Dalton will be discussing Java/J2EE development on Mac OS X between noon and 2pm.


We examine methodologies in
Also in Java Today
. In Monday's Editor's Notebook , I wrote a bit about Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas' use of the Gardening metaphor for programming instead of the more commonly used construction metaphor. This sparked a lively debate on whether or not gardening scales. In a wonderful exchange of ideas, jimothy and ckessel discuss gardening, pragmatic programming, low vs. heavy process, and up front design. Read through and contribute to this discussion.

The discussion about using Extreme Programming often becomes religious and polarized. The article Post Mortem: Space Station Manager is a thoughtful analysis of what did and did not work in a game development project. Author Kai-Peter Backman gives examples of where different practices worked in this case and where there were problems. For example, he notes that " Weekly iterative releases, which worked fantastically during initial development and the public beta period, broke down when the game reached initial release as 1.0." He also writes that "The low level engine libraries benefited greatly from the agility inherent in XP. However, the gameplay code would have needed more design from the beginning." Thanks to a reader for submitting this item.


In today's Projects and Communities The Linux community links to the Linux: MiniLesson: An introduction to Linux in ten commands. Open up a terminal window and follow the tutorial from pwd, ls, file and cd to grep, more, and cat as well as cp, rm, and mkdir/rmdir.

The JModalWindow project is designed for the times that you need "some modal functionality, that didn't block all frames like JDialog does, because then for example the help frame was no longer accessible."


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