Hinweis: Eine deutsche Fassung dieses Berichts findet sich auf meinem konzeptblog.
My observations and notes to the Snap! Conference 30.07.-02.08.2020 in Berkeley while the impressions are still fresh..
Yesterday the 2nd international meeting of the Snap! community ended. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this meeting was held completely online. This was very convenient for me, because otherwise I would not have been able to participate anyway for several reasons. Since I have already mentioned my dayly highlights on Twitter (day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4),, I would like to limit myself to two other aspects here.
1. organisational matters
I found it astonishing and very gratifying that, despite the limitation to meeting in Zoom meetings, a real conference atmosphere has emerged. In all sessions there was the typical friendly atmosphere, a precise timing, good moderation and lively discussions in the chat or with audio/video of the participants. By the way, I found it unnecessary to annoying that many participants kept their video channel open permanently. An avatar is enough. The connection can be made almost instantaneously if required.
The informal rooms (Hallway, Game meetings), which provided space for important chance discussions, and the Forum also contributed to the good conference atmosphere.
The dayly information on the organisation came early and was precise. The transmission quality in Zoom was always sufficient to excellent. The quality of the content of the contributions as well (which of course remains the most important thing). All in all with 20$ conference fee an outstanding price-performance ratio. For me it would therefore be absolutely acceptable if the Snap! follow-up conferences were to be organized online in this way again. This would save costs on both sides (organizers and participants) with almost the same revenue.
2. the future of Snap!
In the final session the future of Snap! was discussed. More precisely, many wishes were expressed as to what should be integrated into Snap! and in what direction it should be expanded. For me, this was a somewhat computer science-heavy discussion between computer scientists and computer science teachers, mostly justified with their teaching requirements. My view, however, is shaped by my own requirements, which put other aspects in the foreground.
I’m using Snap! as a tool to create (a) computer art and (b) optical illusions. For (a) and (b) the graphical possibilities are crucial. I remember how enthusiastic I was when Jens incorporated my suggestion of an adjustable stage size (wow, that was five years ago!). This was quite helpful for my projects (a) and (b), as well as the possibilities of precise color settings (now found in Colors and Crayons). These are things that have little to do with language concepts. For the simulations (c) I use clones, because this is how agent-based systems can be represented in Snap!. I use them e.g. for growth models, population dynamics and epidemiology. Eckart Modrow showed exactly such an example in his keynote (influenza):
I had previously implemented such projects in NetLogo. As an absolute fan of visual programming environments (no wonder, since I once developed those for modeling dynamical systems myself) I completely switched to Snap!
The possibilities presented by Jens through the introduction of the Hyperblocks naturally inspired me. This makes Snap! the ideal development environment for interactive multimedia applications for me (especially those always find great interest in my exhibitions). If I understood Brian Harvey correctly, he has Snap! in mind as a general programming language. As an application programmer I would agree with that. I am curious to see what further developments the developers will actually tackle.