Thursday, August 1, 2013

Raspberry Pi - The Wrong Solution to a Problem

I was using the Raspberry Pi as an example today of a solution that came out where the problem was all wrong.

Basically, it's all people. You can teach computer science on all sorts of different pieces of hardware. A computer from the mid-80's will do.

It's about people. It's a really hard thing to teach. Looking at my own experiences when I was at tech (short for polytechnic), there were those of us who just "got it" and could run with it and those of us who struggled and needed help. You could tell, by the end of 2 or 3 classes, who the people were who could understand programming and those who were better off looking at one of the other streams in computing. So how do you accommodate for those differing levels? I actually failed papers because I wasn't engaged at the beginning and found it hard to be enthusiastic when it came to the bits that I didn't know or understand as I had just spent the better part of a semester bored out of my mind.

What the Raspberry Pi has done though is to give a community a common platform to produce resources for. So you know what you've got to work with - the limitations and bonuses. It's about then making up a bunch of resources around teaching and learning computer science.

So the hardware... while I think it's great, there are probably better alternatives out there if it's just about the hardware. But the Raspberry Pi isn't. It's about the community around it. In which case, while they provided a solution, it was the wrong solution but as a result the right solution has come along.

I'm just hoping that the same happens with the Parallella. However, given it's more specialised area of computing, I fear it may be a bunch of people who already know about parallel processing, the challenges and libraries etc., that work on them and the barrier to entry may still be fairly high for parallel processing.

No comments:

Post a Comment