Jeanette Wing’s “Computational Thinking” at our reading group

This morning was our monthly HCI Reading Group that Alan Blackwell runs under the Crucible umbrella. Simon and Luke Church presented Jeanette Wing‘s “Computational Thinking” – definitely the shortest paper we’ve had so far.
Simon’s approach to the paper was educational, since he’s been thinking about how we teach ‘computing’ to young kids. There must be something in the ether about this as I had a similar conversation with Steve Drucker on his last visit to Cambridge. Simon was particularly impressed with Computer Science Unplugged.
Luke’s approach to the paper was more political. We talked about the potential negative impact on society of uncritical utopian views of computational thinking.
One of the most fascinating critiques of computational thinking came up when Alan was talking about ambiguity. We discussed whether/why Computer Science was particularly bad at dealing with ambiguity and used poetry as an example. Poetry cannot be studied as if it was objective, the ambiguity of a poem can only be studied in relation to the subjectivity of the reader.

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