The MIT News Office recently interviewed one of our colleagues at the MIT Center for Future Civic Media, Mitch Resnick.
Resnick is a long-time Media Lab professor best known for helping develop and deploy Scratch, a programming language for kids. But this month Apple rejected an app that would allow kids to view Scratch programs on iPhones and iPads.
Resnick is his ever-reasonable self in the interview, saying that Apple doesn't allow applications that interpret or execute code and thus the Scratch app in question (which was developed by a third party) violates that policy. But it's an indication of the challenges of working with products by companies like Apple, where one of the world's great programming languages can't run on one of the world's most popular platforms.
"As we see it," Resnick wrote on the Scratch blog, "there is nothing more important than empowering the next generation of kids to design, create, and express themselves with new media technologies."
Patricia Seybold at Customer Think described this issue as a case of "kids caught in the crossfire" in a battle between Apple and Adobe, which is responsible for Flash -- one of the options for Scratch -- and which Apple thus far refuses to allow on iPhones and iPads. It's a somewhat strange decision because, as Warren Buckleitner at the New York Times blog Gadgetwise points out, Apple allows Flash and other executable programs to run just fine on its other products.
The more likely reason for Apple's decision to ban the Scratch app, Buckleitner argued, is that it could allow an iPhone or iPad to download other digital content, such as music, directly from the source rather than through the iTunes Store.
In other words: "Sorry kids, could you be quiet? Adults are talking here."