[IAEP] How many Activities?

Edward Cherlin echerlin at gmail.com
Wed Jul 9 05:35:45 CEST 2008

It seems to me that much of the thinking around the XO and Sugar has
been based on the assumption that we should provide a small number of
Activities on which to build whole curricula. (Feel free to contradict
me if you know better, but that is the appearance.)

I don't see it that way. I want the children to have access to more
than 10,000 apps, like the rest of us. This just came up in my mind
because a friend asked me to look into getting source code for a
genealogy program to port it to a different handheld. My family is
rather genealogy-minded, as you can see on my brother's site
http://home.earthlink.net/~cherlinfamily/, which traces not only our
family, but also every other Cherlin line and all known variants.

Anyway, genealogies are of great cultural importance, and also of
great value for historical and biomedical research, among other
things. So I would like to see a genealogy app for Sugar. I would like
to see it built on top of a general-purpose database engine that could
be used in a wide range of other Activities, including databases
compiled by students for whatever reason.

When I look at my computer, I notice a number of other things that I
do routinely that would be harder in Sugar.

* Stickies notes
* Calendar program with notifications
* Multimedia file management
* System monitor
* Menu manager
* Keyboard and IME utilities
* Calendar converter
* Synaptic software database and package installer
* My personal favorite games
* PDF editor

Now I wouldn't claim that everybody should want what I want, but some
number of children would find each of these useful or even necessary.
Converting between Western and Muslim calendars, or numerous other
local calendars, is a grade-A pain without appropriate software. I
have had to track down and kill runaway processes with memory leaks
causing severe disk thrashing. I have so much software to keep track
of that without a way to edit menus I would lose a lot of it. And so

We are clearly going to have hundreds of activities quite soon. It is
not clear to me that Sugar will scale to having thousands available,
which will inevitably happen. But perhaps it is not a problem, because
by then we will have bigger computers.

Edward Cherlin
End Poverty at a Profit by teaching children business
"The best way to predict the future is to invent it."--Alan Kay

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