[IAEP] Apple Eases Restrictions On iPhone Developers

Alan Kay alan.nemo at yahoo.com
Sat Jun 12 20:59:00 EDT 2010

Steve didn't forget anything -- he caused the iPad to be redeveloped and put out as a product (that was what I was referring to).

It's not just small type -- it's small page size, not enough pixels for great antialiasing, and also trade-offs between visual angles due to the conflict of sampling between two discrete mechanisms (display and retina).

And visual angle is also very important younger ages, and for drag and drop construction, visible resources, etc. For example, the excellent Scratch interface is not nearly as effective on the XO despite the large number of pixels.

I'm not putting out unsupported or internally generated random opinions here. (And I would be very leery of "educational" research in general. They are trying to look for the lost keys under the lamp post rather in the inconvenient dark down the street where they were lost.)

For example, it is still that case that the better reader you are, the harder it is to read on any computer screen, still today, and even the ones that don't flicker at all. We put a lot of effort at Xerox PARC to do the experiments and observations to understand what it takes to make readable electronic media (among other things, I was the original type designer and tester there for both bit-map screens and the early laser printers). One part of the story can be found in Tom Cornsweet's book on the modulation transfer function of human vision as related to stable reflective media. Another has to do with the tradeoffs between visual acuity, light sensitivity, saccades, scanning, and several other factors in the way human vision works.

I don't think anyone would accuse me of having tried to reinvent the wheel, or admonish me to try not to (but the range of random opinion out there is wide indeed). 

However, I am worried that the big propensity today is that so many people in both computing and education are "reinventing the flat tire".



From: Caryl Bigenho <cbigenho at hotmail.com>
To: Alan Kay <alan.nemo at yahoo.com>; Bert Freudenberg <bert at freudenbergs.de>; IAEP SugarLabs <iaep at lists.sugarlabs.org>
Sent: Sat, June 12, 2010 5:12:43 PM
Subject: RE: [IAEP] Apple Eases Restrictions On iPhone Developers

 Date: Sat, 12 Jun 2010 12:43:14 -0700
From: alan.nemo at yahoo.com
Subject: Re: [IAEP] Apple Eases Restrictions On iPhone Developers
To: cbigenho at hotmail.com; bert at freudenbergs.de; iaep at lists.sugarlabs.org

The reason I told Steve a few years ago to make the iPhone screen at least 5" by 8" is that the small screens on phones are *really really bad* for good use in education (especially for children). This is amazingly not at all understood by a vast number of "educators".





Evidently "Steve" forgot to tell his developers and marketing departments. This is just a small sampling of what is out there:




Actually I would love to see some recent hard data from real educational research about the effects/affects of screen size (or type size?) on children.  We all know that primers begin children with large type and that the books progress to smaller type as the child gets older.  

However, some very bright children move to smaller type books ahead of their age cohort.  Is this harmful?  Should these children be held back for fear of damaging them? What does neuroscience and educational research have to say about this?

As an aside to developers, I notice Apple is already touting the "educational apps" that are available. Be sure you don't re-invent the wheel... unless, of course, it is a much better wheel! (Which I'm sure it will be.)


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