Jens Mönig is a researcher at SAP and makes interactive programming environments. He is fanatical about visual coding blocks. Jens is the architect and lead programmer of UC Berkeley’s "Snap! Build Your Own Blocks" programming language, used in the introductory “Beauty and Joy of Computing” curriculum. Previously Jens has worked under Alan Kay on the GP programming language together with John Maloney and Yoshiki Ohshima, helped develop Scratch for the MIT Media Lab and written enterprise software at MioSoft. Jens is a fully qualified lawyer in Germany and has been an attorney, corporate counsel and lecturer for many years before rediscovering his love for programming through Scratch and Squeak. For leisure Jens likes guitar picking and strumming his mandolin.
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The latest Snap! release is all about scaling up. We've redesigned Snap's architecture to support bigger projects that can do more in less time while retaining interactive liveliness. And we've also designed the blocks to be more expressive, so you can "think more" with fewer blocks. To accomplish this we've enhanced the domain of scalar functions to also operate on collections such as vectors, matrices and multi-dimensional data. Sound boring? We call it "Hyperblocks"! I can't wait to show you how fun they are.
Besides making linear algebra a first-class citizen in Snap! hyperblocks complement the technical side of our ongoing pedagogical exploration to rethink introductory computing from a data perspective rather than focusing on imperative "coding" alone. As our experience of the world is increasingly channelled through media, its digital representations let us discover real, relevant and engaging data "in the wild". We're excited about luring out educational and casual computing to realms beyond the well-trodden paths of video games and battery-powered plastic toys.
If the video-conferencing gods look favorably upon us I'll close with a little surprise...