Should Android programming be open to non-programmers?

If evil is the exception opening up the creation of apps to users should be no big deal. Yet to many in this profession it is a big deal.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive

If you believe in open source this should be good news.

App Inventor for Android opens the creation of apps, for the first time, to non-programmers. The apps you write can access the phone and the system's GPS. You can write custom apps for sites like Amazon and Twitter.

It's all drag-and-drop, based on the Open Blocks Java Library distributed by MIT.

So why are some who cover the Android calling this "your route to spam app stardom?" Why is Techcrunch calling it "a gateway drug or a doomsday device for Android?"

The New York Times says the new tool has been beta-tested with sixth graders, high school girls, nursing students and undergraduates. Why is this somehow a bad thing, a dangerous thing?

Are you more ethical than a sixth grader?

From the start of the open source movement, the ability to create code and publish it was democratized. Open source is based on the theory that most people are decent, that most of us aren't out to destroy the other guy, that evil is the exception and not the rule.

Open source has thrived for 10 years on this idea. Sure, there are bad people. There are spammers and crackers and gangs. But they're the exception. They're not the rule.

And if they are the exception, then opening up the creation of apps to people who don't know code, to users, should be no big deal.

Yet to many in this profession it is a big deal.

I should add it's not a big deal to the Times or the BBC or even the people at the Guardian.  Only some of us who talk to programmers for a living seem to be put-out.

Why is that? Is open only supposed to be available if you're part of the programming priesthood? Does learning to code Java bring with it some magical ethical cloak? Is there a secret handshake no one told me about?

I don't think there is. But feel free to disagree.

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