In response to Friday’s post about Scratch, the visual programming language designed for kids, Ryan Briones writes:

In the same vein there’s also Hackety Hack. I found out about it via the Makezine Blog – [via] Link.

HacketyHack is a Ruby-based development environment and tutorial lessons designed to make it easy for kids age 13 and up to write useful software. The guiding principle is to “make the most common code very easy and short. Downloading an MP3 should be one line of code. A blog should be very few” (6 lines, in their example).

On the subject of hackerly passtimes for kids, you should check out The Little Coder’s Predicament, an essay written by the author of HackeyHack back in 2003. In it, we’re reminded about how accessible programming was 20 years ago. While we’ve come so far in terms of what can be created with software — especially with modern languages, availability of source code, and more capable hardware — I think it’s actually gotten a lot more difficult for young people to get started.

In the 1980s, you could look up from your Commodore 64, hours after purchasing it, with a glossy feeling of empowerment, achieved by the pattern of notes spewing from the speaker grille in an endless loop. You were part of the movement to help machines sing! You were a programmer! The Atari 800 people had BASIC. They know what I’m talking about. And the TI-994A guys don’t need to say a word, because the TI could say it for them! – Link

So, there’s Mindstorms for future roboticists, and there’s Scratch and HacketyHack for young coders. These all seem either too specialized or too fringe, though. What’s the modern day C64? For those of you with kids, how are you teaching your little ones to hack?

Scratch: exploratory programming language for kids – Link