[IAEP] Teacher in Uruguay enchanted to see his ideas integrated, into global Sugar update

C. Scott Ananian cscott at cscott.net
Sat Sep 20 01:20:20 EDT 2008

On Fri, Sep 19, 2008 at 8:14 PM, Michael Stone <michael at laptop.org> wrote:
> On Fri, Sep 19, 2008 at 02:58:41PM -0400, Greg Smith wrote:
>>I want to make sure that all of our work is grounded in specific
>>requests and user goals. That has to come first before we design code or
>>GUIs. Part of my work is to explain what is most important to users so I
> Your fundamental request, interpreted literally, is in my opinion
> _untenable_. Start from the mission statement:
> This mission statement clearly states that the goal is to provide
> opportunity -- not to satisfy specific concrete user requests.

Hmm, I fall in the middle of these two extremes. =)

I think it is vital that we close the feedback loop.  But the tightest
feedback loop will be with local groups, helping local people.  I'm
coming around to the idea that OLPC should NOT be (for example)
developing lesson plans for Tam Tam -- that's something local teachers
can do much better (although we should provide support and ensure that
plans made get communicated to others).  This is undoubtedly something
asked for, but that doesn't mean that, for example, Michael Stone, C.
Scott Ananian, and Chris Ball are the correct people to be writing
lesson plans for kids far away.

So, I lean with Michael on the "opportunity" perspective.  We need to
be "thinking ahead" and ensuring that the extreme capabilities of our
platform are demonstrated, so that local groups can effectively
"finish the job" and do the tailoring for their local needs.  I'd like
us to consider our job to be to provide an "OLPC construction kit"
with all the pieces you might need to do the tailoring to make your
custom suit.

In that sense, core architectural features (collaboration
infrastructure, journal backend, power management) are the most
important things we can do: they are the foundation which local groups
can build on.  We are not in the right place (physically!) to do the
"last mile" stuff.  We *do* have a shot of being in the right place
(right near Red Hat HQ! well connected with upstream and kernel
developers!) to do the "distro" stuff.

So, IMO, you're both right.  Greg: we absolutely need to concentrate
on our feedback as Job #1.  I'm still rather disappointed when we
consistently hear from our users that (say) they get confused because
the text they type ends up in the search box and switches them from
ring to list view, or that they can't tell whether they are connected
to a network or not, or (hitting close to my home) that olpc-update
takes too long, and we dismiss that feedback -- oh yes, but that's how
we *designed* it, so it must be right, you just don't understand our
grand plan.  But on the other hand, I absolutely don't think we should
give up our core architecture work in order to concentrate on writing
Tam Tam lesson plans for schools in Afghanistan.  (Or devote "six
months to bug fixing" putting other development on hold, as has been
proposed.)  We need to be responsive to feedback *and* keep
concentrating on our strengths, moving the platform forward, and
encouraging local groups to do last-mile development.  We also need to
aggressively document what we do and teach others, keeping in mind
that everything we write is just the first part of a project others
will finish.

 ( http://cscott.net/ )

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