[IAEP] For Sugar Everywhere, Google-ize!

Michael Stone michael at laptop.org
Thu Feb 17 00:46:47 EST 2011

On Wed, 16 Feb 2011 at 21:46:04 -0500, Chris Ball <cjb at laptop.org> wrote:
> Hi,
>    > Stepping back for a moment, the key question is: how can we get
>    > Sugar out of the window manager and network manager and activity
>    > update and UI toolkit business, where it's just not keeping up
>    > (and wasting our efforts), and concentrate on the stuff we're all
>    > really here for: enabling kids to learn and explore and share?
>    > How much can we strip away and still have Sugar? 
> I agree that this is the right question.  I think we can strip
> everything *other* than:
> * Can be appropriated -- translated, modified, discussed.
>   => A "view source" key
>      The ability to modify apps
>      The ability to run your modified apps
>      The ability to reuse a document created in one app inside other apps
> * encourages creation rather than mere consumption of content.
>   => Strong authoring tools for:
>      Written documents
>      Vector and bitmap graphics
>      Animation
>      Presentations
>      Stories
> * encourages joint collaboration and sharing.
>   => Sharing documents and messages between users
>      Real-time synchronous collaboration between users
>      High-level synchronization of data structures à la groupthink
> What do folks think -- did I miss anything important?  Did I list
> anything that doesn't deserve to be listed?

Several months ago, I exchanged some email with Walter and with my colleague
Brian on this very subject. The unfinished, unpublished result was, roughly:

    Sugar is a collection of affordances for action, reflection, and
    communication chosen for their significance to learning. 
    Sugar promotes action because people learn by doing and by expressing,
    encourages reflection because people learn by discovering and resolving
    confusions, and fosters communication because people learn from one another. 

On the whole, this description seems to agree with your thoughts above. On the
margins, though, it seems to me that:

   * your words on appropriation are a well-taken addition that I missed,

   * reflection, which Walter brought up in his comment about the Journal,
     should be called out in your next draft, and

   * the idea that Sugar is software /for learning/ and that its features (and
     constraints!) are selected in order to promote learning probably also
     deserves mention.

Finally, both of our discussions seem to leave out some of the other important
distinctive attitudes of the project, like those embodied in the "low floor, no
ceiling" and trustworthiness goals.


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