Dining hall conversations among the instructional staff at CTY can go pretty much anywhere and such was the case this morning at breakfast.
Arsalan, our robotics wizard, was telling me about a woman in Great Britain who came up with a way to teach computer programming to young children by turning the if/else statements into stories that begin with "Once upon a time..." Each new choice would take the story in a different direction and create numerous versions of the tale.
It is, I pointed out, a spin on the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, in which the reader is asked at various points to choose action a or b, and is then directed to a different page depending on that choice. But since the computer is not strapped by the physical limitations of a printed book, there is the availability of many more options to any given choice.
There did have to be, however, an end to the story and that would be the "ultimate else." It is the same in any video game; at some point you make a decision to do or not do something and you are killed/ destroyed/ whatever and the game ends. The ultimate else.
And, in fact, isn't that how to describe life itself? You make choices that lead you to more and more choices until you reach that ultimate else and then your "game" is over.
At this point, the discussion intrigued our tablemates, Brittany, Holly and Zach, who joined in. I postulated that Arsalan was actually an agent from the future, here to prevent the ultimate else of the entire universe from happening. Each time we reach that final if/else, we further speculated, he is able to "skip that line of code" and come back to reset things to change the outcome.
Ah, but is it something one of his students does? Or a number of students? Or one of us?
The possibilities, it would seem, are endless...