Mary Flanagan and Ken Perlin are presenting Rapunsel, a project where they’re getting 11-13 year old girls keen on computers by – with the girls – designing a system where the kids program animated characters to choreograph a dance. From the website:

If you’re a kid, showing and telling things to the smart pets that you share with your friends is very different from writing Java, Python or Logo. It is much more powerful, because it builds on innate social and perceptual skills. It is programming as a first language.

Quick notes made during the talk:
7% of programmers in the US are women. Middle school girls have the same kinds of test scores as boys but then they suddenly lose interest and fall behind. This project tries to help change this.

Women account for 43% of all computer gamers in 2004 (39% in 2003). Half of all game purchases are by women. 1/3 of Everquest players are women.

Make a game for 11-13 year old girls, employ them as design consultants.

Mary Flanagan, Ken Perlin, Andrea Hollingshead + students

Prior work: LOGO, Fluxus, happenings, conceptual art work. Wants to tell other narratives about how we create software (abacus, Babbage, Ada, Turing, ENIAC etc) and include conceptual art, say Yoko Ono’s instruction paintings – these are ways of thinking about programming in terms that don’t rely solely on maths.

everyday desires + technology = expression of a possible world (Deleuze, “a theory of the other”)

How do you bring together the culture of the hacker and the culture of the middle school? Especially in a culture that does not encourage group work. Peer programming has been popular with girls but this is not being used in instruction.

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