Boxer: a reconstructible computational medium

Paper by Andrea A. diSessa, Harold Abelson (1986)

One major benefit of programmability is that even professionally produced items become changeable, adaptable, fragmentable, and quotable in ways that present software is not.

… a reconstructible medium should allow people to build personalized computational tools and easily modify tools they have gotten from others. This concept is in strong contrast to the current situation in applications software — professionals are designing tools only for large populations with a common need.

Boxer challenges, in a small way, the current view of programming languages. More significantly, it challenges the current view of what programming might be like, and for whom and for what purposes programming languages should be created. We have argued that some computer languages should be designed for laypeople, and have presented an image of how computation could be used as the basis for a popular, expressive, and reconstructible medium. Computers will become substantially more powerful instruments of educational and social change to the extent that such an image can be realized.


  • suggesters: geoffreylitt, cklokmose
  • curators: jryans