Sunday, January 30, 2011

Positive agendas

One reason I wrote so much about CALL is that it is a positive agenda. A positive agenda fulfills the following 4 requirements:

CALL development has a clear goal, namely, the production of better language-learning software.

In contrast, most busywork people do to earn money doesn't have any goal.

CALL has justification for why the goal is worth reaching. People have to learn languages anyway, one way or another, at least in Europe.

For example training, competing and winning is not a positive agenda, unless people plan to use the trained skills for some further goal. There must be a justification for why the training is worth the effort.

CALL has a tradition outlined by prior art, current popular software and to lesser extent books and journals. Tradition tells what works and why, what doesn't work, and what has been tried in the past with variable success. Finding a tradition to attach to is a big boost in any effort.

CALL has a working approach which tells you how you can put in hours to make progress towards the goal. You develop better CALL by writing software and collecting and filtering data sets. This approach is something I can perform.

For example in Roissy-style game, there is a clear goal (pickup), justification (pleasure or happy relationship), traditon (Mystery method) and approach, but the approach is not something I can yet apply. Therefore game is not a positive agenda for me.

Few people around me have any positive agendas in any area of life, and when I spot one it is fascinating to watch. Last summer, when go circles in Tampere organized the European Go Congress, it was a positive agenda. The goal was to arrange the tournament. The justification was to enable European go players play together and find out the European championship. The tradition of yearly go congresses had been around since 1957. The approach was to organize it the same way as past congresses and local events. But usually go circles don't have any positive agenda, since justification is lacking.

When Esa and Kari talked about Haskell and category theory, it sounded like they had a positive agenda, although I didn't have the background to understand what they were talking about.

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