[sugar] Education?

Bert Freudenberg bert
Mon Mar 12 06:12:27 EDT 2007

On Mar 12, 2007, at 10:27 , Simon Forman wrote:

> I've got something I think may be useful and relevant to this  
> discussion.
> I have been toying for several years with a system that I eventually
> named "xerblin" that provides a metaphor for computation that can span
> high level "Desktop" activities down to assembly language.  By that I
> mean that it puts grep and MOV into the same seamless framework.
> It works by presenting the user with a super-simple (yet Turing
> complete) model that permits creating new commands out of preexisting
> ones in a straightforward easy to understand direct manipulation
> interface.
> This model can be taught to non-computer-literate people; I explained
> it to my dad in about 30 minutes over coffee (he was 72 at the time
> and not very computer literate.)
> It also functions as a sort of user-manipulable AST.  There is a
> partial parser that transforms a subset of C into this xerblin model
> and permits exploration and modification of it on the fly.  That part
> is not included in the current demo as it makes use of a GUI widget
> that's being reworked, and because the C parser was in fact terrible
> as it was written under deadline for a conference.  I did manage,
> however, to turn a C for loop into a xerblin model, modify it using
> the mouse, and then execute it immediately with a click.  That went
> over well.
> In the current demo there is a much simpler parser for a much simpler
> little language that works the same way.
> As I said, this is strictly a proof of concept demo.  The concept it's
> proving is that you can use it with many languages and levels, it
> integrates them into one conceptual world, and then lets you play
> around and discover how to make things with it without getting in your
> way.
> Also, as a sort of curious serendipity, it resembles the sugar
> interface:  it makes use of a user-visible "stack" that is very
> similar to the sugar Clipboard and, at least in it's more mature
> forms, it was to make use of a Log to record user history, not unlike
> the sugar Journal.
> I plan now to implement it for sugar and then to use it as a platform
> to create some sort of "Children's Garden of Cybernetics" as an
> educational Activity for the XO.
> Anyway, there's my two cents.  Nice to meet you all, and if you want
> to look at xerblin, I've spent part of the weekend getting the site
> and demo in shape to mention on this list, but I must warn you that
> this is a simple little hobby project that I made as a proof of
> concept and I'm not too proud of the code quality.  Also, I haven't
> tested it on other platforms, but it should work on linux.  You can
> check it out at www.xerblin.com (sorry about the dot-com, it's not..)
> There's a lot more I could say about it, but I don't want to spam  
> the list.

Hi Simon,

this is awesome stuff! We've been thinking along the same lines -  
having one single paradigm that goes from the UI to the hardware (and  
hopefully even below). You'll find like-minded people at the FONC  
list, see


and also the writings at


- Bert -

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