The Right to Hack, not to Flash
Ian Bogost wrote a really interesting blog piece about the whining of developers over the loss of Flash on the iPhone/iPad platform. Most of the respondents are going on and on about how Ian got it wrong and Apple is evil. That’s entirely separate from Ian’s real point which is that complaining about Flash in indicative of the state of computational literacy today — learn a new platform!
But what does it say about the state of programming practice writ large when so many developers believe that their “rights” are trampled because they cannot write programs for a particular device in a particular language? Or that their “freedom” as creators is squelched for the same reason?
I wonder if it doesn’t amount to an indictment of the state of computational literacy.
Developers today can only work in Flash? They can’t learn Objective-C? Nobody can build tools that compile to Objective-C, so that the developer has powerful tools but the app is built to Apple’s specs? I thought that good programmers built tools and learned new languages and platforms.
Programmers have a right to program, to “hack.” As Ian points out, they don’t have a right to Flash. More to Ian’s point, good programmers are flexible, can learn new tools, and when necessary, build new tools.
Apple may be making a big mistake here, and may be in the wrong. I really don’t understand those issues well enough. I do recognize Ian’s point, which is really about computing education: Stop whining and learn another way!