In his 1970 Turing Lecture, “Form and Content in Computer Science” (Journal of the ACM 17.2 April 1970), Marvin Minsky makes a number of observations which I like to gather under the rubric “the social impact of the how”.

It will help the student to know something about computational models and programming. The idea of debugging itself, for example, is a very powerful concept — in contrast to the helplessness promoted by our cultural heritage about gifts, talents, and aptitudes. The latter encourages “I’m not good at this” instead of “How can I make myself better at it?”

I like to read this less as a call for continuous improvement (which partakes in large part of the discourse of grace and the wages of sin) and more as as an invitation to honest engagement. Sometimes making oneself better at a given task or activity involves breaking away from that given task or activity for a little while. And “going meta” to use the parlance of Jerome Bruner is a skill to be acquired and renewed.

And so for day 154

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