Obituary of Jerome Bruner

by reestheskin on 16/07/2016

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A nice story in Nature about two giants: Jerome Bruner and the Turing award winner,  Alan Kay.

Jerry made seminal contributions to an astonishing number of fields — each a stop on the road to finding out what makes us human. Beginning in the 1960s, computer simulations became the model of the human mind in cognitive psychology, with researchers trying to simulate how humans solve problems, form concepts, comprehend language and learn. But reducing humans to computers was antithetical to Jerry’s humanistic perspective.

Given this, it was surprising that computer scientist Alan Kay, the designer of what became the Macintosh graphical user interface, turned up more than 30 years ago on Bruner’s Manhattan doorstep with a gift of a Macintosh computer. Jerry’s ideas of representing information through actions, icons and symbols, central to his theory of cognitive development, had inspired Kay to get users (even children) to act (through a computer mouse) on icons, enabling the use of an abstract set of symbols (computer program). This was the foundation for what became the Macintosh interface.

One other line in the obiuaryt by Patricia Marks Greenfield stood out:

In 1972, Bruner sailed his boat across the Atlantic to take up the first Watts Professorship of Psychology at the University of Oxford, UK. 

I guess the removal expenses were as stingy then as now.