Number 25, January 2000
Edited by Paul Mulholland P.Mulholland@open.ac.uk
Spotlight on PPIGers: Miki Grahame and Rob Rist
The Psychology of Programming Interest Group (PPIG) was established in 1987 in order to bring together people from diverse communities to explore common interests in the psychological aspects of programming and/or in computational aspects of psychology. ‘Programming’, here, is interpreted in the broadest sense to include any aspect of software development. The group, which at present numbers approximately 300 world-wide, includes cognitive scientists, psychologists, computer scientists, software engineers, software developers, HCI people et al., in both Universities and industry.
PPIG aims to provide a forum for the rapid dissemination of results, ideas, and language or paradigm tool development, circumventing the long time-lag of conferences and journals. It does this by maintaining two electronic mailing lists - one for announcements and one for discussion - by publishing two newsletters a year, maintaining pages on the World Wide Web, and organising a workshop annually, together with other workshops as and when required.
The annual workshops, which always attract a high percentage of attendees from outside the United Kingdom, consist of keynote addresses by eminent practitioners in the relevant fields, discussion panels, software demonstrations and seminar-like presentations. Invited speakers have included Professors Jack Carroll, Bill Curtis, Laura Leventhal, Clayton Lewis, Gary Olson, Peter Polson, Elliot Soloway and Willemien Visser. Venues have included the Universities of Warwick (1989), Wolverhampton (1990), Huddersfield (1991), Loughborough (Jan 1992), INRIA (Paris) (Dec. 1992), the Open University (Jan. 1994), University of Edinburgh (1995), University of KaHo Sint Lieven, Ghent (1996), Sheffield Hallam University (1997), the Open University (1998) and University of Leeds (1999).
In 1996, for the first time, a workshop was held specifically to allow post-graduate students in the relevant disciplines to come together, give presentations and exchange ideas. It is hoped that this will be the first of a series.
There is no subscription. Financial help in the past has come from Xerox EuroPARC, the DTI and EPSRC. Further information is available from the organiser, Judith Segal.
The PPIG website can be found at http://www.ppig.org/
Spotlight on PPIGers
The Playground Project is 3-year project funded by ESPRIT. Our aim is to create computer environments called “playgrounds” where children aged 6-8 can play, design and create games. We are working with two visual/animated programming languages: ToonTalk and Open Logo. Through programming and playing with rules, we hope to enable children to engage in abstract ways of thinking.
The project consists of a consortium of partners from UK, Portugal, Sweden and Slovakia, with complimentary expertise in computer science, education, curriculum development and commercial concerns. The Institute of Education is the lead project partner.
Find out more at our website: http://www.ioe.ac.uk/playground
Miki Grahame is a research officer on the Playground Project working at the Institute of Education. Before this, she did a computer science degree at Cambridge University . Her research interests are: learning to program, children’s understanding of rules, visual representations in computer science, and user-interface design.
I’m still working on a better basis for Zippy; I’ve been building a model of cognition based on links (of various types) between objects. When / if it is complete, it should be able to support any of the existing cognitive architectures, including neural nets. It does a pretty good job of capturing episodic and semantic memory, goals and objects, for functional and part-of relations; basically, it can dynamically generate episodic copies by combining (semantic) goal and object relations. I’m now working on procedures, selection and looping; it’s tricky …