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

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

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

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:

IAEP -- It's An Education Project (not a laptop project!)

Reply via email to