Some of the most popular learning platforms I use, to teach coding, make it hard for would be game developers to create anything multi-user. Even the earliest MUD (multi-user domain) could do that. Those were the good old days right?

As of this writing, MIT Scratch has recently revamped. My students sounded lukewarm, but acknowledged the promise of new unexplored add ons. One of them paused to show me the Micro:bit module, and wondered aloud what it was.

“The BBC mailed a Micro:bit to every kid in England” I told the whole class. “Here in the United States, we don’t have any companies like the BBC, which both creates the national news shows and mails kids programmable devices.” I’m right about that no? True, some of our students have Amazon scholarships, but we’re hardly reaching out to a whole nation.

However, the multi-user domain is what we have anyway, if you think of the Matrix and our shared city streets. The worlds within the world idea is an old one, big in theater, pronounced in Shakespeare. These platforms have much to do with theater, as well as film. Sprites act in the foreground, against background stage objects. In Codesters, the stage is what listens for events, such as a pressed key, or a collision between sprites. If this happens then do that. Choreography.

Ideally, the goal is to get the students shifting the same mindset in and out of the computer, as you find queues both in design patterns in software, and everywhere else. In the regional dialect, people “line up” at the supermarket or bank, awaiting a cashier or teller, but they’re forming queues all the same. First come first serve. “Your call is important to us, and will be answered in the order received.” We have both queues and trees in phone world, with trees usually expressing themselves as “menus”. “Please listen carefully as our menu options have changed.”

Many of these concepts were formalized not in software engineering, but in the shipyards during wartime, when nations competed to build warships at a furious pace. This was the birthplace of operations research, which gave us the critical path, and PERT analysis. Project management software, used by construction companies and such, helped to internalize and propagate many of the management practices developed by these researchers.

Probably the greatest culmination of all this research was in the Apollo Project, which involved many sub-projects running in parallel, from mission control, to readying the rockets, training the astronauts, designing the lunar lander. Or, if you think the Apollo Project was a hoax, a subterfuge, aimed at substituting faked events, then it took stage magic and sleight of hand to new levels. War is also about misdirection.

I think the Apollo Project was real, and that if all that effort had gone into faking it, then neither NASA nor the Russians would have developed the technologies needed for the two space stations, Skylab and ISS, not to mention the Space Shuttle. A “hollow NASA” that was in actual fact incapable of sending astronauts to the moon, would not grow the mental muscles needed for lifting a reusable shuttle into space, albeit near Earth orbit. Van Allen Belt radiation? They got a dose, and didn’t die (not right away).

That doesn’t mean I disbelieve in subterfuge. Of course that happens too. Humans have been working on their stage magician skills. Misdirection remains a part of the World Game.

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