i see that olpc is responding to consumer demand and putting android as well as sugar on new xo3 machines.
perhaps this will become gladiatorial combat in which one will die, or perhaps it is an opportunity for conjugation by their respective developers to give birth to a new generation of interface that possesses the best features of each ... it all depends on how the teams respond. presumably, the original intent of olpc was to facilitate education; education in the broadest sense. there are two strategies for that: evolution (by working with school systems) or revolution (by working against them). perhaps i am wrong, but it looks to me that sugar has followed the latter route. Papert's marvellous insights were seminal - and i seem to recall that there was talk of a revolution in the classroom - but perhaps that was just the heady language of the 1960s at work? the electronic spreadsheet was another seminal development - and even more far-reaching, for it was the one that sparked the personal computer revolution in the first place, and one that has stood the test of time so far. economic/social revolution worked in France, but its ideals never made it into USA political consciousness, except in the mouths of a few sanguine commentators like Noam Chomsky and less sanguine ones like Michael Moore. yet the computer revolution still hasn't made a major impact on education - a minor one, to be sure, but the promise has yet to be fully realised. it is possible that the people who like making software, being computer enthusiasts, forget that the average Joe child in whatever country has other, more urgent, more visceral, more real-world needs than making machines dance? like knowing how to prevent/stem infection. like knowing how to manage money. etc etc. computers could help them learn these vital things, if only that was where the technocrats' motivations lay... in the long run, evolution is more persistent than revolution. empires, having risen, eventually and fall. but technology marches on and drags humankind (sometimes kicking and screaming) into new ways of thinking about things. an interface, like a human language, is a means to an end, but (particularly in a monopoly market) there is always the risk of it becoming political territory, as with the Academie Francaise for example, fighting off the linguistic invasion of "l'Anglish". but if evolution is truly inevitable, might it not be better to go with it than stick one's heels in against it? aside from the surface interface issues of whether one should point with a finger or a mouse, or type on a screen or a keyboard (typing isn't going to go away anytime soon as reliable AI aural comprehension is still a long way off) - there are deeper issues; issues about the "deep interface" - issues about how the interface provides access to function. Google has found a pretty good way of providing access to data - now users need one for providing obvious access pathways to function too, to make machines truly "user-friendly". and a means of facilitating collaboration: if there is one still green field waiting to be ploughed, it is the field of synchronous real-time collaborative creative activity extending beyond mere chat. user collaboration takes place inside an application, but the screen management and filesystem support engineering needs to provide the props for that to occur smoothly, to assure data integrity, etc. this is one of the stated design goals of sugar; i don't know whether it is also a design goal of android. below is one suggestion on how desktop and playground metaphors of android/linux and sugar respectively could coalesce and evolve, so that the user interface gets out of the user's way and becomes merely a means to the end of facilitating interaction with the real educational (or other functional) content instead of (as in the case of sugar) shouting about itself in the user's face or (as in the case of linux) being awkwardly troublesome for the non-geek: https://sites.google.com/site/djhbrown2/oui.pdf
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