Education

Why are programming languages different from natural languages?

Natural languages have been around for millennia. They have grown, evolved, spread, split into new ones or disappeared with the people that spoke it… Even though programming languages are much more recent, some are now in their sixties, like C, Lisp or Fortran. Most of the time, we think of developers more as scientific than literary people. But why then are they called programming languages, and not programming sciences? What are the connections and differences between natural and programming languages?

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The “no-code movement”: will programmers be put out of business?

In a way, no-code isn’t a new thing: ever since we’ve added GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces) to our programs, or that we’ve created WYSIWYG (“What You See Is What You Get”) editors, we’ve searched for ways of making the life of programmers easier. Pieces of software like WordPress or IFTTT are different, yet they both have one goal in common: automate some menial tasks to take away the complexity and bring more people to the party.

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The concept of agency / Le concept d’agentivité (2/2)

Last week, I started to talk about agency, this “feeling that you are in control” and that your actions can have an impact on your environment. In particular, I mentioned how video games can help us understand when choices are meaningful and how they teach us this power of decision. Today, let’s continue with a focus on the links between games and real-life, and on false choices and manipulation.

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The concept of agency / Le concept d’agentivité (1/2)

Two weeks ago, I talked about Skinner’s theories on human behavior and conditioning. I also mentioned how his discoveries, and most notably the Skinner box, have been used in game design. When we think about conditioning, something that we usually have difficulty with is the idea that some external force is deciding for us; that we have essentially lost our power of action. This ability to choose and influence the events in our life is called “agency”.

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