Last week I went back to Alan Kay's article The Early History of Smalltalk that he published in the early 1990's. When I couldn't quickly find my copy on my computer, I went out and searched again for it.
The odd thing was that the version I found was slightly different, in that it contained a list of six "schemes" that underpinned the design of Smalltalk. These were missing from the version I had looked at earlier.
>1. Everything is an object 2. Objects communicate by sending and receiving messages (in terms of objects) 3. Objects have their own memory (in terms of objects) 4. Every object is an instance of a class (which must be an object) 5. The class holds the shared behavior for its instances (in the form of objects in a program list 6. To eval a program list, control is passed to the first object and the remainder is treated as its message
Everything is an object.
A powerful statement, not only about Smalltalk, but about everything.
Because, by nature, an object is a holon, in Koestler's model, that which likely shaped shaped Kay's concept of Smalltalk and Another Level of Thought.
I was thinking about these ideas as I was talking yesterday with David. He sharing with me how he is struggling with writing his book on pattern languages because he is a little overwhelmed with the multitudes of fragments that have not yet found order.
I shared with him Kay's paper and wondered what might happen if he stopped thinking about his fragments as loose parts, needing order, but went back to each fragment and asked himself what its core concept was and how he might make that concept whole. A holon. Then to label that concept so that it might be more easily connected to others.
For patterns begin with holons, each that must be whole onto themselves in their own elegant expression. The are made complete, not by being a part, but by their own integrity.
Sit with them, honor them, that is what I challenged David.
That practice forces a great mind shift, away from us being the omniscient grand architect, to one of being a humble co-creator with the universe. As we do so, we begin to see patterns mysteriously unfold, ones that illuminate new meaning. Powerful meaning.