No 21 - Playgrounds 🤖 Public Spaces 📐 Architects for the very young
Playground as platform
My name is Linda. I write a bi-weekly newsletter about computer science, childhood and culture - and there are 9412 of you listening. If you enjoy this issue, please share it with anyone you think may find it useful.
Hi hi hi. July is here and so is my annual vacation. Before hopping and skipping towards summer there is one project I want to share:
We’re starting work towards a computer playground in downtown Helsinki! Together with city of Helsinki we are imagining a public playground in Ruoholahti that teaches kids about technology through play. What if you could learn about how computers work by climbing and crawling? What if the basics of computational thinking could be explored on a trampoline? What if a playground could make technology more approachable, playful and familiar?
If any of this sounds interesting to you (the intersection of physical play, public space and computer science with a playground as a platform, if I may), these are topics we’ve been researching and studying during spring and will continue the work in autumn with more stakeholders and groups. I’ll be of course writing more about the process and discoveries in this letter.
And now - I wish all of you a very lovely summer. See you in August!
In computer science, a linked list is a linear collection of data elements whose order is not given by their physical placement in memory. But here it is a selection of things I’ve been reading lately.
Playgrounds have been my big focus this spring and there is so much I want to share! Alexandra Lange’s The Design of Childhood: How the Material World Shapes Independent Kids was a big inspiration already years ago. Aldo van Eyck’s impact on Amsterdam is a classic - do take the Seventeen Playgrounds route if you’re there). Architecture for Children is one of the best sources of historical playground design around the world.
John Maeda’s Human-powered computer was one of those projects that got stuck in my head years ago and never really left. This project plays homage to it, as well as to the Walkthrough Computer exhibition.
A few years ago I started posting the infamous Donald Knuth vs. e-mail story as my out of office signature. In essence: “Email is a wonderful thing for people whose role in life is to be on top of things. But not for me; my role is to be on the bottom of things. What I do takes long hours of studying and uninterruptible concentration. I try to learn certain areas of computer science exhaustively; then I try to digest that knowledge into a form that is accessible to people who don't have time for such study.”