Volume 4, Number 3 - Spring 1996

© Logo Foundation

You may copy and distribute this document for educational purposes provided that you do not charge for such copies and that this copyright notice is reproduced in full.

These are the major articles that appeared in Logo Update, Volume 4, Number 3- Spring 1996. Minor changes have been made to update information such as addresses. Conference announcements and other items of transient interest that appeared in the original newsletter have not been included here.

In this issue:

Logo Down Under by Jeff Richardson

Logo: An Excuse to Learn by Andrea Anfossi

More About Logo and Hypermedia

Memories of Logo


Logo Down Under

by Jeff Richardson

The history of Logo in Australia begins in 1974. Scott Brownell, a teacher from the island state of Tasmania brought a magnetic tape copy of Logo from MIT to Hobart, to run on a PDP-11 at the Tasmanian Education Department's computer center. He then recruited another Tasmanian teacher, Sandra Wills, and secured a rare and expensive robot turtle from The General Turtle Co. The ensuing project saw every school in Tasmania connected, with a teletype terminal, to the PDP-11. Sandra would load the turtle into the boot of her car and travel all over the island, moving from school to school. At each school children would hook up the turtle to their terminal and use their remote Logo to control it. It's quite astonishing to think that some of these children are now in their 30s!
This work led to two technical breakthroughs in global Logo history. With the arrival of the Apple, personal computers came to rule the earth and distributed computing went into hiding for 15 years. Richard Miller, of the University of Wollongong in New South Wales, wrote the first version of Logo to run on the Apple, specifically to drive the robot turtles in the Tasmanian project. In addition to collaborating with Richard, Sandra Wills had overseen the engineering of a small and relatively inexpensive floor turtle, the Tassie Turtle. The Tassie Turtle achieved a degree of accuracy and precision that had eluded similar research and development efforts in Edinburgh and elsewhere. And it could be run from a 5.25" floppy disk on an Apple.
The Tassie Turtle and friends
Once Terrapin and LCSI Apple Logos became commercially available, Tony Adams of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Victoria, was quick to provide low level code procedures to enable both these versions of Logo to control the Tassie Turtle. When Seymour Papert visited Australia to speak at the Victorian Computer Education Conference in Melbourne in 1981 he was moved to tears when he found himself in a room surrounded by a swarm of buzzing, beeping robot turtles.
Seymour's visit built on the pioneering work of the Tasmanians to inspire a generation of Australian Logoists. Logo veterans still remember Seymour's dazzling demos using TI Sprite Logo, a version capable of degrees of parallelism and playfulness only recently reached once more in MicroWorlds and StarLogo.
The propagation of Logo in Australia was next boosted by the publication of two important and influential Logo books in 1983: Learning Logo, by Tony Adams, Anne MacDougall, and Pauline Adams; and Let's Talk Turtle by Caroline Dowling and Liddy Nevile. These two books opened up a range of activities and insights into the use of Logo, from the charming zoomorphism of the turtle to sophisticated computer science ideas. Tony Adams' implementation of Prolog (a very vogue language at the time) in just five pages of Logo code rivals the inspiring projects in Brian Harvey's books.
By 1984, Anne MacDougall of Monash University, Melbourne, was able to convene a conference entitled "Logo in Australia: Ten Years On." This event was attended by Logoists from all over the country. The diversity of the people in attendance ­p; teachers, students, academics and parents ­p; was matched by the panoply of Logo versions and platforms that were in use at this time: Commodore 64, Atari, Tandy, BBC and TI contended with LCSI and Terrapin's Apple versions. Logo had become widespread and its enthusiasts had an energy and optimism that belied their limited resources. Everyone was working with not many machines and not much time. Although the educational establishment could not now ignore Logo, Logoists were still very much a guerrilla element.
The next big leap forward for Logo in Australia did not come for another five years. During this time LogoWriter and LEGO TC Logo were previewed, then commercially released, to critical acclaim. Though successful, this success was limited, not by any limitation in these products themselves. On the contrary, they were too good. Here was the Logo idea so plainly expressed ­p; an all encompassing curriculum, the now ubiquitous "pages" years ahead of time ­p; that to really use these Logos was only possible with an educational revolution. It was not forthcoming and it seemed that Logo had reached a high water mark. Also during this time, Peter Carter of the University of Adelaide, South Australia, kept the Logo community nourished and entertained with his quarterly newsletter POALL and his brilliant book Thinking Logo. Back issues of both are much sought after even today and are still well worth hunting down.
In 1989 a curious and uniquely Australian development began which was to be the strongest vector yet for the spread of Logo in Australia. Liddy Nevile, in conjunction with RMIT and the Australian Council for Educational Research began the Sunrise Project. The key element of this project was laptop computers. In the pilot schools where it began, Coombabah on the Gold Coast in South East Queensland and Methodist Ladies College in Melbourne, entire cohorts of children between years 5 and 7 were given laptop computers, one per child. And each machine was loaded only with LogoWriter. The entire curriculum was conducted and expressed by the children as LogoWriter projects.
As anyone in the Logo community might guess, it couldn't not succeed. The children did everything, geography, ancient history, biology, music ... in LogoWriter projects. The imagery of children with their personal laptops captured the imagination of both lay people and educationists nationwide. This popular success was almost inescapably technocentric. But this factor had an interesting twist. Schools that wanted to emulate the project (there have been scores and the number is still growing rapidly) tended to swallow the thing whole. The laptops were the shiny baubles that attracted the interest, but as nobody really knows what to do with computers in education, LogoWriter, and now MicroWorlds, became the default software for laptop initiatives all over the country.
This narrative is not complete without mentioning two of the strangest and most challenging Logo books ever written: Turtle Confusion and Turtles Speak Mathematics by Barry Newell, Director of the Mount Stromlo Astronomical Observatory in Canberra. They evoke Lewis Carrol as they present a Socratic dialogue with the Turtle. This Turtle leads the reader through a series of puzzles and conundrums that show that even today, in the shadows of StarLogo, MicroWorlds and LEGO Logo, there's still plenty of life in the plain old turtle.

Jeff Richardson is a Lecturer
in the Faculty of Education at
Monash University
Churchill 3848
tel: +61 3 902 6391
fax: +61 3 902 6361


Logo: An Excuse to Learn

by Andrea Anfossi

In November 1995 three elementary school students from Costa Rica presented their work to the 800 people who attended the Seventh International Logo Congress in Porto Alegre Brazil. These children are part of the Programa Informática Educativa, a joint project of the Ministry of Public Education and the Omar Dengo Foundation.
For the PIE, the students' active, creative, autonomous, and critical participation has been the central focus and the reason for proposing different learning alternatives to the traditional approaches. The children are the "reason for being" of this program and they are the best indicators of the quality of our work.
We now have evidence suggesting that the training process, aimed at learning how to use the computer's potential in an intelligent way, has begun to bear fruit.* Today, thousands of children and teachers have developed cognitive potentials that have enabled them to make computers "do" what their imagination and creativity leads them to build, as they are immersed in the learning process of a new technological language.
In this learning process, all the participants are important. To be consistent with the notion of educational change, the PIE is promoting the participation of youngsters in settings in which there is an interaction between different generations. We believe that teachers have a lot to learn from children's experiences. For that reason, we must open spaces for dialogue with the children on an equal basis. For many years the PIE has organized national and regional Children's Logo Conferences in Costa Rica, where students share their projects with other children and with adults. Our participation in the Logo Congress in Brazil extends this experience.
Two boys and a girl from three different public elementary schools faced the challenge of sharing the fruits of a cooperative project between advisors, teachers, and students with the people attending the Congress. Kemly Jimenez, an advisor for the PIE, and I had the opportunity to participate in this magical moment, which only a few years ago would have seemed impossible.
For the first time, the PIE was presented to an international audience, not through electronic printouts as evidence of our efforts in educational computing, but directly by a small group of representatives of that new school generation. From that experience, the children, Ana María, Carlos Fernando, and Fidias Emilio have said:

The week that we participated in the Conference in Brazil, I was filled with pride because we were representing practically all children from our country. In my case, there are many schools of the country participating in the project which I represented, the Electronic Magazine. My dream was to present the work that all of us had done and to do so in the best possible way. Participation in this Logo Conference in Brazil was really a very special experience for all of us. The three of us who attended the Conference had not known each other before. Soon a friendship started to grow among us, which I think is going to last. Sharing, if only for a week, was for us a long time to learn from one another and from all the people with whom we talked in Brazil. About the project, I must tell you that when we began, we did not know the tools which we were going to use and they seemed very impressive to us. We did know Logo, but we did not know email. We did not know how to use it. But then when we discovered how to do it we saw that it was something very useful and which helped us a lot. We saw that in spite of distance we could exchange ideas with others. As I said during the Conference in Brazil, Logo is like the sea, not one with fish, but with ideas, and we are ships that navigate in that sea. Keep up working with Logo and email.
Ana María Durán, age 12
Republic of France School, Taras

For me it was a really unforgettable experience. Thanks to it I was able to get to know many people and places. I was able to show the work of my six classmates, although they were not able to be present. They told me: We know you are going to represent us very well because you have been chosen from among the seven of us and you will make known what we are all able to do with our work.
Carlos Fernando Morales, age 10
Eugenio Corrales School, Paraíso

Something very inspiring for me about the Conference in Brazil was a speech by Seymour Papert, who was talking about a transformation that must be carried out in all schools. The teacher must not teach, but the teacher must learn with the students. We should change and use Logo so that we children learn how to learn. That is what I was thinking: "I wish all schools in the country used Logo." We hope that that will be achieved, with God's help. We met many people who also inspired me and I want to send them letters, to communicate with them. I made a great friendship even if only for a week, but we got to know each other and now I know many people and many other countries. I wish to thank everybody for giving me the privilege of being able to represent Costa Rica. I think we put our country's name in a good standing at the Conference. We were among the few children who attended, almost all of them were Brazilian. People congratulated us and we made a good impression. I learned lots more, so many things, but I will only tell you this much for now. Thank you very much.
Fidias Emilio Castro, age 11
12 of March School, Pérez Zeledón

Ana María Durán, Andrea Anfossi, Fidias Emilio Castro, and Carlos Fernando Morales at the Seventh International Logo Congress in Porto Alegre Brazil
This learning process and experience lived by three Costa Rican children at the International Logo Conference transcends the school and the educational computing lab. We are finishing the 20th century with an ambitious project, which proposes a renewed concept of what we mean by learning and education in a small Central American country. From among the many expressions verbalized by these children during that week outside of Costa Rica, I chose one as the name this article. It is a reflection of what many of us feel, after sharing the children's thoughts and ideas.
* Informes del Proceso de Evaluación Cualitativa del PIE MEP-FOD, Fundación Omar Dengo, San José, Costa Rica, 1994-1995

Andrea Anfossi is the Director of the Programa Informática Educativa, MEP-FOD
Fundación Omar Dengo
Apartado 1032-2050
San José, Costa Rica
tel: +506 257 6263
fax: +506 222 1654


More About Logo and Hypermedia

Brian Harvey comments on the articles about Logo and hypermedia that appeared in the winter 1996 issue of Logo Update.

To the editor:
The debate between the MicroWorlds and the HyperLogo approaches to combining Logo with multimedia may be less a matter of educational philosophy and more one of inadequate technology. Like many other hotly debated issues in user interface design, this one was correctly settled in the Smalltalk system developed on the Alto computer by Alan Kay's research group at Xerox in the 1970s, and then forgotten. The crucial point is that virtually all of the Smalltalk system, including its user interface, was written in Smalltalk itself, and available for inspection or modification by the user.
There seem to be two points of contention. One is that in HyperStudio many desired behaviors are provided as primitives, rather than programmed in Logo using more basic primitives. So, for example, instead of using a primitive FadeToBlack capability, Michael Tempel would like to write a Logo procedure using SetColor and Color primitives. Suppose these primitives represented colors as three-element lists of red, green, and blue values; the Logo procedure might then be something like

to FadeToBlack
repeat 40 [SetColor map [? * 0.9] Color]
SetColor [0 0 0]

(I am making this up because I'm not an expert in either MicroWorlds or HyperLogo! In practice the program might be more complicated because the window being faded would include more than one color, so the program would have to ask each color separately to fade itself to black.)
The second point of contention is that in HyperStudio there is a menu of actions, whereas in MicroWorlds an action is chosen by typing a Logo instruction.
Both of these differences become negligible if the entire system is programmed in Logo. Imagine that the HyperStudio action menu is really a menu of names of Logo procedures, and that each such procedure can easily be inspected, perhaps by pushing some button while the mouse is on a menu item. Imagine further that MicroWorlds is supplied with a library of prewritten useful actions, such as FadeToBlack. The first point of contention is then eliminated; users can think of these actions as primitive, if one happens to fill the bill perfectly, or can modify them, if the default action isn't quite what's needed.
As for the second point, imagine that (in both systems) the program that displays the action choice window is itself written in Logo. Then MicroWorlds will come with a ButtonActionChoiceWindow procedure that provides a space for typing a Logo instruction, while HyperStudio will come with one that provides a large menu of canned choices. But a user of either product could modify this procedure to customize the system's behavior. Once the user isn't stuck with the system designer's choice, that choice isn't so important.
(I should add that I've chosen to describe the situation in Logo terms, but by this choice I'm somewhat misrepresenting the Smalltalk approach. Since Smalltalk is an object-oriented language, wherever I've used the word "modify" a Smalltalk programmer would actually not change the programs provided in the system, but would instead create a new variant that inherits most of its behavior from the system version, but has new procedures written for only those aspects of its behavior that the user wants to change. As a result, both the official system version and the user's modified version are available for anyone else to use.)
Why don't MicroWorlds and HyperStudio work like Smalltalk? Of course I can't speak for their designers, but I know two things that stand in the way of using the Smalltalk approach in software generally. First, the language compiler technology has to be very good to allow utility procedures written in Logo to be fast enough. Of all the current versions of Logo, probably only Object Logo has a good enough compiler. Second, corporate greed makes commercial software vendors reluctant to provide users with human-readable and human-modifiable versions of their programs; they want to keep their technology secret.
Brian Harvey
Department of Computer Science
University of California, Berkeley

Michael Tempel replies:
It's not that I want to write my own FadeToBlack procedure. I'm happy to use someone else's as long as it's written in a language I can understand so I can modify it if it isn't quite what I want. Having a library of procedures is also a good thing because it provides a body of Logo literature from which to learn.
Right now, no such library exists for MicroWorlds, but ironically it does for HyperStudio: the long and growing list of New Button Actions (NBAs). Users are encouraged to create their own NBAs and development tools are provided in the HyperStudio package. Unfortunately, the NBAs are written in C and the tools support C programmers rather than ordinary humans using Logo.
What is most interesting is that Brian is unaware that MicroWorlds is in fact the Smalltalk-like environment that he advocates. MicroWorlds is Logo written in Logo: The development system is itself a version of Logo. The entire user interface is controlled by Logo procedures. While this is no secret, LCSI provides no documentation or support for using this underlying Logo. Except for an occasional weird error message about "button-loop" you wouldn't know it exists. So I think Brian's critique is valid. It would be great to muck around underneath MicroWorlds, but without LCSI's help we can't. MicroWorlds might as well be written in C.
Michael Tempel
Logo Foundation
New York City

Mike Westerfield replies:
There's certainly a lot to be said for a recursively developed programming system, designed in itself and using source code that is available to any user. In a research environment, that's a real boon. In many ways, it's exacly what happened with C and UNIX, although the effort was not as well organized or carefully thought out as Smalltalk.
Yet Brian Harvey seems to dismiss an important point about HyperStudio. It is not a Logo language environment with multimedia commands. It is a multimedia word processor. It doesn't even need a scripting language to be a useful product, and in fact, early versions of HyperStudio were shipped without a scripting language.
Comparing HyperStudio and HyperLogo to Smalltalk is like comparing calculators to desktop computers: There is some overlap of purpose, but they are not the same thing. The appropriate model for HyperStudio is Microsoft Word, not Smalltalk. Both are editors, although one edits multimedia and the other edits text. Both have scripting languages that are not used for routine tasks, but are available when needed.
While a system such as the one Brian describes would no doubt be useful to many people, I doubt that the typical HyperStudio customer would give it a second glance. Just as someone who needs to write a letter uses Microsoft Word rather than Icon, someone who wants to develop a multimedia resume or classroom lesson will find HyperStudio easier to use than a Logo programing environment.
Brian and I share a lot of common interests. Like him, I would be interested in using a development environment like the one he describes. In fact, if I thought I could make a commercial success from it, I would even enjoy writing one. But even if I had it on my desk, and was completely familiar with it, I'd use HyperStudio to create my resume or to create a computer-based description of comet Hyakutake. And I'd happily take advantage of a great language to do so.
HyperStudio is not your professor's programming environment, to twist an advertising slogan. It's a radical new way to use a great language for an entirely new purpose. It's not a competitor for a traditional Logo programming environment, but does represent a great tool ­p; and one with unique opportunities for anyone who already knows Logo.
Mike Westerfield
Byte Works, Inc.
Albuquerque, NM

Memories of Logo

The following message appeared recently on the UseNet newsgroup comp.lang.logo.

Article 2474 in comp.lang.logo:
From: kolean@gwis2.circ.gwu.edu (Kylie Elizabeth Olean)
Subject: Memories of Logo

Hi, I'm not a teacher, nor do I really have anything to do with Logo anymore. I saw this newsgroup, though, and couldn't help but subscribe. My first experience with computers was on an Apple IIe, using Logo. That turtle was the coolest thing when I was seven or eight. I read a post where someone said that Logo was too difficult for younger children to comprehend. I seriously disagree with that statement. I started learning Logo in second grade. It was what piqued my interest in computers.

I'm now working as a technical assistant in my university's computer resource center. I help people with problems they're having with computers. And I kind of owe it all to Logo. Of course, I probably would have eventually gotten interested in computers, even without it. I would have started later when I learned BASIC in jr. high. But I still have very fond memories of that turtle. And I just wanted to share that.