Sunday, September 23, 2007

ORT Student Journeys: Gonda and Dolder

My friend Mauro Canziani mentioned a few days ago that he was attending the X Student Journeys at ORT University. That brought great memories from probably one of the first edition of these Journeys which I had the opportunity to attend many many years ago (I'm almost sure it was way more than X so it looks like they changed names at some point).

There were two conferences that had memorable instants for me at that event:

1. Breogan Gonda talked about a project he had on development stage that sounded very promising at that time and he closed he's conference with a very empowering concept pointing to the unlimited potential of ideas stating "We've got the imagination". "The imagination" materialized over the years in the greatest development tool ever: GeneXus, which relevance increases as it gets harder and harder to keep up with technology's pace in today's world of exponential growing.

2. Herman Dolder explained (to me for the first time) the process of learning. The main thing I got out of his presentation was that in order to learn you need to attach new concepts to existing concepts in your mind. If you don't have the little pieces to attach the new information you simply can't learn. That's why good teachers present information in different ways so different students with different previous concepts or views can do the link. The "aha moment" is unique and particular to each student and it involves a matching process between what I know and what I incorporate as new knowledge. As a corollary, learning hurts. The reason is that sometimes in order to be able to match new info with existing info we need to re-accommodate what we know and this is a process that consumes energy and generates "mind pain". Knowing this helped me to recognize and embrace this pain in my mind as I learned, which seems to be fundamental to acquire the flexibility to learn in the least limited way possible.

Funny coincidence after all. In writing this post I realized that Herman Dolder is pursuing a development tool, based in the Model Driven System. In this paper he compares such a tool with Program Driven Systems and Application Generators (such as GeneXus). As far as the theory it's pretty interesting, as he states in the paper Model Driven Systems would be the holy grail of computer science (as any other project involving AI). On the other hand, if I was pursuing such a tool I'd ride on top of existing technologies and use for instance GeneXus as the program generator. Actually today, GeneXus would be in a better position than ever before as it today has a pattern generator that can generate GeneXus objects as needed by an external tool. It would have made a lot of sense for a tool to be designed that would in the end through the pattern generator use the GeneXus tool to generate the best database schema as well as the best platform dependent programming code instead of re-inventing the wheel ...

Back to the ORT Student Journeys themselves they had a very nice robot development contest on speed, orientation, search and transportation, all done with LEGO kits. Must have been lots of fun!

As you can tell I didn't have the time this year to make it to the GeneXus Event so I still have time to be thinking out of the blue stuff ;)

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