The Kids Are Alright
Kathy Sierra, an author with a java.net weblog of her own, has just posted a tremendously interesting message to Studio B's "Computer Book Publishers" list. Click the above link — here it is again if you're seeing this via RSS or equivalent funkiness — before continuing here, because she's got a lot more to say than I do.
You read it right? OK, we can continue.
First, there are an extraordinary number of interesting observations in this message, and while Kathy writes it for the purpose of wondering how book authors address a technical audience (indeed, what even counts as a tech book when the Final Cut Pro book is on Border's "Movies" shelf?), the technical immersion of the next generation touches all sorts of efforts.
Take java.net for example. Is this site just for developers? Should it be? Right now, developing java applications involves a steep learning curve, but what if Rave changes that? Or what if we started writing and sharing small, useful applications / applets / servlets that users could configure and deploy without coding? I can imagine a "java audience" that wouldn't be programmers, but people stopping by to pick up code for blogs, wikis, DIY P2P networks, game applets ("Whack-A-____", where you could use a config file to point to whack-able pictures of ex-significant-others, politicians, your boss), and who knows what else. We might someday be speaking to a very different audience than the one we enjoy today, one that would effortlessly work with code the way that Kathy's kids work with digital media.
(talkback hint: this is where you tell me that "people already do this with your favorite language / framework / OS")
Technical immersion surprises every generation, and I suppose it's only going to get more profound. My 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. And he will express a very distinct preference for Toy Story vs. Toy Story 2, or SSX over SSX Tricky (yes, he's tasteful for a toddler... Tricky sucked). I can hardly imagine how easily and effortlessly he'll pick stuff up as he grows up... if it provides value to him and isn't too much of a hassle.
Are tech savvy kids our potential audience, or our potential successors?