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

Michael Stone michael at laptop.org
Fri Jan 2 19:25:19 EST 2009

On Fri, Jan 02, 2009 at 06:12:40PM -0500, Walter Bender wrote:
> Can you please cite a few examples to help ground me further?

Let's try: 

  * the Etoys/Debian fight?
  * the F6/F7 timeframe Java fight?
  * the Debian/Fedora fight? (and the Ubuntu/Debian fight?)
  * the activity packaging formats fight?
  * the initscripts fight?
  * the vserver fight?
  * the libertas fight(s)?
  * the Bitfrost/____ fight?
  * the Journal/file manager fight?
  * the livecd-tools / pilgrim+puritan fight?
  * the stock vs. patched kernel fight?
  * the UY, ET, and NE modification fights?
  * deciding how and where to seek donations to OLPC (or alternately,
    to market and sell XOs, depending on your perspective).

>(2) to what extent they incur "great" expense. 

I agree that it's hard to measure. (I still think it's worth trying to
think about.) The most significant factor seems to be whether and how
you count opportunity costs. 

Three random examples:

  * The early Smalltalk vs. Python arguments
  * Bryan's point about choosing a PyGTK stack vs. a Javascript-ish stack 
  * Fedora vs. Debian

> Presumably the 2007 decision to not aggressively pursue Flash support
> on the laptop is an example of a choice in the "libre" category?

I'm counting it as such. 

> (Although, at the time, the decision was driven as much by some
> pragmatic integration concerns as by ideology.) 

As with some current debates about key autonomy, the ideological battle
strongly influences our willingness to do the implementation/integration

>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. 

It seems to me to be a recurring theme for OLPC; perhaps Sugar Labs will
do better.

> 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. 

As I see it, it had everything to do with exploiting local opportunities
vs. "acting globally". "Libre"-ness is just one reason that a _few_
people (who are active here) seem to put forward for why we _shouldn't_
exploit those purely local opportunities. 

> But this had nothing to do with "libre" vs. "usability."

"libre"-prizing and "usability"-prizing are just contingent attitudes
which seem to me to bias people towards optimizing for specific locales
(including, occasionally, the global one). Lots of other contingent
attitudes have the same effect. I brought up "libre" and "usability"
because they seemed to me to be prominent in the current thread.

>Bryan's point about drag-and-drop and the lack of applications
>addressing "fundamentals" don't seem to be correlated to this

Correct -- it's an interesting and worthwhile but unrelated criticism of
the status quo.


P.S. - Please let me know if you'd like to me to try to analyze some of
the examples I suggested in more detail, e.g. if it's unclear what I
mean, why I think they're relevant, or if you're bothered by the fact
that they can be interpreted in several valid ways.

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