Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas: Spirit of Sharing in Scratch

Merry Christmas fellow Scratchers! Here is a little game-cum-greeting, remixed from MyRedNeptune's original project, Christmas Night, that I am quite fond of.

To the seasoned Scratcher, remixing is not a new concept. If you are just beginning to scratch, you might be wondering what it is all about.  A remix is what results when you download another Scratcher's project and create something new or different with it. On every project page at MIT Scratch website, there is a link you can click to see a map of remixes. The remix visualization for the original Christmas Night is quite dense as it has undergone changes by many a-remixers, me included.

The opportunity to remix is as significant to learning as the fun and creativity it entails. The good MIT folks created Scratch as a form of teaching and learning, and the ability to download and read someone else's code and thought process helps accelerate the learner's understanding and programming skills.

To me, any invention is created twice, first in a person's mind, and second in the physical world. Scratch gives me first the enjoyment of seeing others' inventions, then the wonderment of appreciating their logical thinking that led to the creation - all thanks to this sharing philosophy.

Fortunately, many software in the world are created with the same philosophy in mind. Image processing software like Gimp or Blender (that some Scratchers may use to make sprite costumes), text editors like Emacs, Vim, Notepad++, and many, many more are open source. Open source means that the code that creates the software is free for download, so you may understand how they work, or even enhance them if you like.

The word free here does not refer to monetary aspects (unlike "free candies"). Although most open source software do not cost a dime, there are those which do.

No, it is free as in "freedom", as in having the "liberty" to learn and create. That, folks, is the spirit of great learning and sharing. Merry Christmas.

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