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    Programming Language for Kids Banned from Apple App Store

    by Andrew Whitacre
    May 3, 2010

    The MIT News Office recently interviewed one of our colleagues at the MIT Center for Future Civic Media, Mitch Resnick.

    Resnick is a long-time Media Lab professor best known for helping develop and deploy Scratch, a programming language for kids. But this month Apple rejected an app that would allow kids to view Scratch programs on iPhones and iPads.

    Resnick is his ever-reasonable self in the interview, saying that Apple doesn’t allow applications that interpret or execute code and thus the Scratch app in question (which was developed by a third party) violates that policy. But it’s an indication of the challenges of working with products by companies like Apple, where one of the world’s great programming languages can’t run on one of the world’s most popular platforms.

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    “As we see it,” Resnick wrote on the Scratch blog, “there is
    nothing more important than empowering the next generation of kids
    to design, create, and express themselves with new media
    technologies.”

    Patricia Seybold at Customer Think described this issue as a case of “kids caught in the crossfire” in a battle between Apple and Adobe, which is responsible for Flash — one of the options for Scratch — and which Apple thus far refuses to allow on iPhones and iPads. It’s a somewhat strange decision because, as Warren Buckleitner at the New York Times blog Gadgetwise points out, Apple allows Flash and other executable programs to run just fine on its other products.

    The more likely reason for Apple’s decision to ban the Scratch app, Buckleitner argued, is that it could allow an iPhone or iPad to download other digital content, such as music, directly from the source rather than through the iTunes Store.

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    In other words: “Sorry kids, could you be quiet? Adults are talking here.”

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    Tagged: adobe app store apple ipad iphone itunes new york times scratch
    • This definitely gets to the question of whether the new internet is a place where we’re all creating content or a place where we go to consume it.

      I don’t have to tell you that I think the iPad is very much about locking us into the latter and I’m not loving it.

    • Dane

      Well. I don’t think Apple has any liability at all the way they do things. The fact is, executable files can destroy things. Completely lock a processor, burn out a hard disk drive or motherboard. Viruses supposedly don’t exist on Macs, now we know why.
      Chidren should NOT HAVE IPHONES!! There is no reason in the world that you could give me to justify anyone under the age of sixteen possessing or using an iPhone or Android, or having a cellphone at all.
      To start, microwaves are bad for living cells. Cellphones transmit information on modulated carrier microwaves, that have been proven to cause harmful effects to living tissue.
      Let’s point those microwaves at our childrens’ brains. It’s bad enough that we use them at all.
      So, KUDOS to the guy developing the programming language for kids. You DID NOT MISS ANYTHING BE REJECTED BY APPLE.

    • Robert MacDonald

      The fact is that Apple views electronics as an appliance and believes that they should be in charge of how YOU use the products that YOU PURCHASED from them. I will never purchase an apple product and I encourage others to do the same. Neither the Iphone or the Ipad offer anything that other products don’t offer as well. Steve Jobs is a control freak who would rather be in control of what is being used on the product you PURCHASED then providing a product that is able to “be all that it can be”. I hope that people begin to see how Apple is attempting to turn your computers into appliances that you are unable to customize to your own needs.

    • This appliance/platform or consumption/creation debate is a good one to have and it also marks a fork in networked culture.

      I got a lot out of reading Jonathan Zittrin’s book “The future of the internet” on this subject. Here is a quote from it’s home page.

      IPods, iPhones, Xboxes, and TiVos represent the first wave of Internet-centered products that can’t be easily modified by anyone except their vendors or selected partners. These “tethered appliances” have already been used in remarkable but little-known ways: car GPS systems have been reconfigured at the demand of law enforcement to eavesdrop on the occupants at all times, and digital video recorders have been ordered to self-destruct thanks to a lawsuit against the manufacturer thousands of miles away. New Web 2.0 platforms like Google mash-ups and Facebook are rightly touted—but their applications can be similarly monitored and eliminated from a central source. As tethered appliances and applications eclipse the PC, the very nature of the Internet—its “generativity,” or innovative character—is at risk.

      The Internet’s current trajectory is one of lost opportunity. Its salvation, Zittrain argues, lies in the hands of its millions of users. Drawing on generative technologies like Wikipedia that have so far survived their own successes, this book shows how to develop new technologies and social structures that allow users to work creatively and collaboratively, participate in solutions, and become true “netizens.”

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