Scotland Loves Anime

A belated shout out to Andrew Partridge, organiser of Scotland Loves Anime, which played at the Edinburgh Filmhouse 14&endash;16 October. With my family I saw Coicent, Towanoquon, Five Numbers, and Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror. I particularly liked Coicent, illustrated above, because it is set in Nara and I recoginised the deer and the temple that feature in it from my visit there as an invited speaker at RTS, back in April 2005. But the real surprise was when Andrew, introducing Oblivion Island, recognised me sitting in the audience, and reminisced about learning Haskell and monads in first year at university, where he was a student in my first-year class. He's done a great job with Scotland Loves Anime, and it's wonderful to see the wide variety of activities our students initiate.


List.It, FeedMe, NB, Exhibit

Last October, we had a visit from David Karger, speaking on "Building User Interfaces that Entice People to Manage Better Information"; only now, alas, am I getting around to posting it on my blog. He spoke on four systems: List.It, a note keeping tool that runs in browsers; FeedMe, a tool for sharing interesting things you find on the web, NB, a collaborative tool for teaching environments, and Exhibit, a Javascript library for posting Excel spreadsheets as web pages. (The screenshot above is from Exhibit.) What I particularly liked about his approach was the interplay between design and experiments to determine how users interact with the systems.


Usability of Programming Languages

I've mentioned a few times my desire that programming languages have a firmer foundation in science, notably psychology. Of course, there is a large body of work in this area that most programming language researchers (in particular, me) know nothing about. Here is a pointer to a course on the subject, taught at Cambridge by Alan Blackwell (above). Blackwell worked with Thomas Green. Green is the author of one of the few papers on the subject I know that has a clear, usable result: people find it easier to work with a flat sequence of conditions than with a nest of 'if' statements. Thanks to Lambda the Ultimate for a pointer to Blackwell's course.

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