[SIGCIS-Members] history, technology and education of theoretical math/cs concepts

Fred Turner fturner at stanford.edu
Thu Oct 8 12:08:42 PDT 2020

Hi Paul,

One starting place might be Morgan Ames’ book The Charisma Machine: The Life, Death, and Legacy of One Laptop Per Child. Lots in there about how folks learn to compute post-GUIs.

Fred Turner

On Oct 8, 2020, at 11:56 AM, Paul Fishwick <metaphorz at gmail.com<mailto:metaphorz at gmail.com>> wrote:

There is a topic that has interested me, but I have been unable to make much headway in
past years since I am not sure where to look.

Consider that Kathy, an 8th grade student, knows more about how to use a computer than
her parents, who may know more than her grandparents. When learning to use digital
technology artifacts such as “menu”, education is imparted on Kathy. She learns something
about tree structures, and possibly finite state machines (FSMs). This is done invisibly because
she did not have to learn discrete mathematics and automata theory to use the computer.

One hypothesis that all technology is this way. We use technology and technology
uses us (by invisibly transferring new mental models). The introduction of
the mechanical clock changed how we conceptualize time. Fast forwarding to digital
technology, Kathy must have conceptualized trees and FSMs as mental models even
though this theory was not made explicit.

My searches have taken me to psychology (where the dominant discourse is about
dysfunction where technology is concerned), history of technology as well as the history
of science. This relates to math and computer science education too—teaching FSMs to
people through implicit means. Learning something without knowing that your learning

If anyone on this list has a good place for me to dive, let me know.


Paul Fishwick, PhD
Distinguished University Chair of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication
Professor of Computer Science
Director, Creative Automata Laboratory
The University of Texas at Dallas
Arts & Technology
800 West Campbell Road, AT10
Richardson, TX 75080-3021
Home: utdallas.edu/atec/fishwick<http://utdallas.edu/atec/fishwick>
Media: medium.com/@metaphorz<http://medium.com/@metaphorz>
Modeling: digest.sigsim.org<http://digest.sigsim.org/>
Twitter: @PaulFishwick
ONLINE: Webex,Collaborate, TEAMS, Zoom, Skype, Hangout

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