[IAEP] [Sugar-devel] How to Make Activity Designers Happy , Parts I and II

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Fri Jan 2 18:12:40 EST 2009

On Fri, Jan 2, 2009 at 5:52 PM, Michael Stone <michael at laptop.org> wrote:
> On Fri, Jan 02, 2009 at 04:01:34PM -0500, Walter Bender wrote:
>> On Fri, Jan 2, 2009 at 3:52 PM, Michael Stone <michael at laptop.org> wrote:
>>> On Fri, Jan 02, 2009 at 12:25:13PM -0800, Bryan Berry wrote:
>>>> On Fri, 2009-01-02 at 15:18 -0500, Walter Bender wrote:
>>>>> (3) We need lots more Activities.
>>>> While there is consensus on this point, there is not consensus on the
>>>> best way to get a lot more Activities. That is, pulling a lot more
>>>> developers into building learning activities that run on Sugar.
>>> I see some orthogonal proposals at work:
>>>  a) supply better compatibility with existing X11 apps.
>>>  b) offer genuine support for popular software platforms (e.g. flash
>>>    and java?) even on space-constrained hardware platforms like the
>>>    XO.
>>>  c) catalyze the creation and improvement of free authoring and
>>>    remixing environments for popular mime-types uncovered by existing
>>>    free offerings or the available environments are unusable on the
>>>    available hardware
>>> Consequently, it seems to me that the most useful political discussion
>>> we can have now is over how to work through the obvious conflict between
>>> the "libre" folks and the "usability" folks. Thoughts?
>> I guess I am slow. Can you spell out this "obvious" conflict in the
>> context of this discussion?
> Sure. Basically, I think we're in an iterated prisoner's dilemma
> situation. The dilemma arises from the facts that
>  a) Sugar exists in both one global and myriad local environments and
>  b) Pairs of people frequently have access to resources which they are
>    unable to share; e.g. expertise, time, or non-redistributable code.
> Fact (a) affords us a range of strategies during each iteration varying
> between the hypothetical extremes of "acting locally" and "acting
> globally".
> Fact (b) means that acting locally frequently affords us payoffs which
> cannot be shared with our partners in the game or which are actively
> detrimental to those other players.
> The situation is iterated because we seem to have to make decisions
> along these lines every month or so.
> The connection to the "libre" vs "usability" dichotomy that I mentioned
> above is that I see the "libre" folks as asking all players to choose
> strategies which optimize "global" payoffs at the (great) expense of
> "local" payoffs; and vice-versa for the "usability" folks.
> Does this explanation help clarify things for you? Would a different
> metaphor be more helpful?
> Regards,
> Michael

Thanks. This is helpful.

But I wonder (1) if these sort of dichotomies occur "frequently" and
(2) to what extent they incur "great" expense. Presumably the 2007
decision to not aggressively pursue Flash support on the laptop is an
example of a choice in the "libre" category? (Although, at the time,
the decision was driven as much by some pragmatic integration concerns
as by ideology.) And the decision to use a GNU/Linux distribution as
oppose to XP (we would have had to have designed a different laptop
had we gone down that path). But this is water that is over the dam,
not a recurring theme. There have been local decisions that have
incurred "expense", e.g. Uruguay made changes to the base image (not
many that are relevant to Sugar) due to the needs of their
deployments. But this had nothing to do with "libre" vs. "usability."
Bryan's point about drag-and-drop and the lack of applications
addressing "fundamentals" don't seem to be correlated to this
dichotomy. Can you please cite a few examples to help ground me


Walter Bender
Sugar Labs

More information about the IAEP mailing list