the Path Forward - education, mindshare, new technology

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Mark Tarver

May 1, 2022, 6:24:17 AMMay 1
to Shen
This is a sort of State of the Union address.

The work that appeared last year marked a big move forward in releasing hundreds of pages of documentation.  Since November 2021 

* we have a new site totaling 1485 web pages 
* TBoS is completely online.  
* there is a standard library 
* and a completely new kernel which has major improvements over the old 
* a new edition of TBoS - fuller, more detailed and longer than the previous - if not easier! * the new website is entirely powered by Shen (no authoring tools) which makes updating and global changes much easier
* every page on the entire site is monitored through Statcounter.  I've got a good picture of user activity.
* we've got a security certificate  on the site.  

So actually all the goals I set in my videocasts have been achieved.  The only exception is the Foundation idea which would have actually involved a great deal of red tape and not really helped us (however it is trademarked should we want to use it) but for the rest, it arrived.

The figures for April show 2718 web hits which is pretty good considering that I've been immobilised the whole month and produced not a single message.  Going back to January this year, when I was a bit more active we have 4815 hits which is more typical.   These hits reflect a continuing level of interest in Shen.  I can tell you that these hits are coming from all over the world with China and America.  The latest hit is from Kazakhstan.


I used to be a professor, as most people know and so education was something that I did.   I think one of the challenges facing Shen is that people don't understand it or what it is capable of doing.  The solution to this is education by online videos and I'll be using Youtube to do just that.  

For many Shenturians who know Shen well, some of these videos will break little new ground.  The point is not to appeal to a small number of people who already understand Shen but to broaden the community by bringing in interest from outside.  As an assistant professor I used to teach third year students and I can tell you that some basic stuff like BNF was not understood by many in my class - sad but true.

So I'll be teaching some very basic CS too because without the basics one cannot program Shen-YACC for instance.  The point about teaching BNF and basic stuff is that it draws in a very wide audience - sometimes hundreds of thousands - who will later look at your more advanced stuff.  So if you wonder 'Why is Mark doing such basic stuff?'  - there is a good reason.   It can radically change this group.

New Technology

Lots of this coming through.  So much so that I'm not going to talk about this in depth.
Yggdrasil, the Logic Lab, concurrency written up, program verification, graphics and a brand new edition of  Logic, Proof and Computation.

Assessing the Impact

If this initiative starts to work you'll see a swift rise in the web hits on the site and I'll post these figures from time to time.  You'll also see a rise in membership of this group (530 at the moment) and some new voices.  This generally rises more slowly than web hits.

So basically the changes I made in 2021 have prepared us for the advances we are going to make in 2022.




May 1, 2022, 3:10:02 PMMay 1
to Shen
Thanks for the writeup! Looking forward to it.

fwiw, I totally agree, I think a nice long youtube series for people like me who are perhaps not super advanced, breaking down concrete Shen concepts, particularly on the type system, would do wonders for your user base. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention ditto regarding tech conference presentations such as the two that were done by Aditya Siram, imo.

Mark Tarver

May 4, 2022, 10:22:32 PMMay 4
to Shen
>  I'd be remiss if I didn't mention ditto regarding tech conference presentations such as the two that were done by Aditya Siram, imo. 

I'm afraid I did not like those presentations.  

Tech conferences are really 90s in spirit.   Vast quantities  of jet fuel and jet lag.  Unneeded in
a post-Internet world.   Virtual conference yes.    

In the internal martial arts you actually begin in a very humble way.   You learn the basics of breathing and stance 
before you advance.    Ego driven posturing based on shaky knowledge will end up with you looking the fool - or
worse, you will be badly beaten up by a person who knows what they are doing.   Therefore a firm foundation is needed
from the beginning.

So one begins with very humble things.   People who lack the humility never progress.  

In this case I will begin at level zero.  BNF and sequent calculus.  Stuff that belongs in the induction courses of first
years CS students - who actually don't know this stuff in year 3 sadly.   And we move forward.    The purpose is to educate
not to impress.  This material is of direct use to people even if they do not learn Shen.    

My purpose is to help people to learn CS - not to show off.  So the initial courses will be zero level.   Actually doing this
well is not trivial.  At university one placed the best teachers in year 1.   Shen will therefore be a tool to help people
learn concepts.  

So the initial courses will be 0.1, 0.2, etc.  Later 1.1, 1.2 with dependencies.   The 0 series will probably borrow from
material in LPC.  

It's not about selling Shen but education.  But in the course of providing an education based on using Shen  
people will come to appreciate it.


Mark Tarver

May 4, 2022, 10:42:45 PMMay 4
I'll also say that a lot of programming conferences are just churn.  People are desperately trying to sell
themselves and whatever they have to say.   The state of computing however is that 99% of this stuff
makes no impression or becomes a short fad.   That's why despite all the hype about deep learning
and AI if you look at the actual tools people use to build programs they are based on languages developed
30 years ago..   


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Mark Tarver

May 9, 2022, 4:15:54 AMMay 9
to Shen
Should be good to go on this phase next month - illness knocked my timetable out a bit
leaving me with a number of pressing practical issues that I'm now tackling but recovery is good.

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