Vygotsky and Coding

At the recent Microsoft Professional Developers Conference, an all-star cast of coding greats were convened on “Microsoft Perspectives on the Future of Programming. ” Among other things, Butler Lampson, Erik Meijer, Don Box, Jeffrey Snover, Herb Sutter, and Burton Smith discussed the improvement in IDEs (integrated development environments) and in various languages and how making coding easier, or at least less likely to fail, also means people not knowing everything they should in order to become great. One contributor likened it to anti-lock break systems: “Now you don’t have to be a great driver to perform well in snow. You just mash the brakes and the anti-lock system does all the heavy lifting for you and it pumps much faster than you ever could. It’s just, in my view, a case where computers actually help you think less. It’s like what Vygotsky in activity theory distinguishes between your performance and your competence.” The video is [here](http://ecn.channel9.msdn.com/o9/pdc09/mp4/FT52.mp4), and the statement is right at 40:00 in. Check it out.