[IAEP] First competitor?

Sameer Verma sverma at sfsu.edu
Sat Feb 28 22:50:09 EST 2009

On Sat, Feb 28, 2009 at 12:04 PM, Albert Cahalan <acahalan at gmail.com> wrote:
> Christian Marc Schmidt writes:
>> On Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 8:58 AM, Caroline Meeks <solutiongrove at gmail.com>wrote:
>>> On Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 8:56 AM, Christian Marc Schmidt <christianmarc at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> I think we'd need to know the specific points of contention.
>>>> I can't imagine which design decisions might work less well
>>>> on PCs. Sugar remains significantly easier to use than
>>>> standard PC operating systems...
>>> Put Sugar in front of the average adult sitting alone, without
>>> any instruction, for 20 minutes.  I doubt many of them would
>>> agree with you.
>> Caroline, I agree this is a challenge.
>> Of course I would argue that this is due to our familiarity with
>> current desktop-based operating systems and the difficulty of
>> breaking old habits. Sugar was designed from the ground up, and
>> hence does require a bit of a learning curve for those of us who
>> use other systems (but for new users should prove much easier to
>> learn). So our marketing needs to continuously address that Sugar
>> is not designed for adults, but for children!
> Never mind the adults. Think of the children!
> "should prove much easier" is a hope, not a fact.
> Children struggle HORRIBLY with Sugar, especially if they don't
> have a real mouse to use. They do like playing with it, sure, at
> least until the frustration sets in.
> I have never seen a child successfully use the journal. That's not
> surprising; it is a black hole for data as far as I can tell.

I've seen several children in Khairat
(http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Khairat_school) use the Journal quite
deftly. They pulled up videos from two months ago and showed it to me
when I was there last year. This was build 656. I also saw them use
the zoom keys quite naturally. What surprised me the most was that
they had *no* prior exposure to computers whatsoever. The teacher (Mr.
Surve) would yell out in Marathi "Go to the neighborhood, join the
mesh". The children not knowing what "neighborhood" or "mesh"means,
would press the zoom key and join the shared activity. I personally
found their level of ease somewhat incredible, considering that they
had the XOs for 10 months at that point.

BTW, to see the typical din of this classroom, here's a clip

> I have never seen a child successfully use the hover palettes.
> They also totally kill user efficiency and are incompatible
> with the long-awaited touchscreen.

Again, I didn't see Khairat children struggle with palettes. They
actually used it while I watched over their shoulders and drew scenes
quite nicely. Here's one

> I have never seen a child successfully use the frame. It's always
> there when you don't want it, and usually not there when you do.
> Regular computers have an interaction device that is essentially
> always there but leaving at least two sides of the screen free of
> trouble. (original MacOS menu, OS/2 Presentation Manager thing,
> Windows taskbar, fvwm GoodStuff, etc.)
> I guess the thing to learn is that getting rid of time-tested GUI
> design is unlikely to produce good results.

Not so sure, because what you are saying is that time tested GUI
designs are a finite set, and all the good designs are taken.


> Uh, now what?

Keep plugging away :-)

Dr. Sameer Verma, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Information Systems
San Francisco State University
San Francisco CA 94132 USA

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