[OLPC Brasil] Why call tools "activities"?

Don Hopkins dhopkins at DonHopkins.com
Wed Apr 4 21:45:28 EDT 2007

Well at least "activity" is not as confusing as "desktop", which 
millions of teachers understand to mean something quite different than 
the traditional Windows/Icons/Menus/Pointer "desktop" gui user 
interface. Somehow we have made it this far with such a confusing 
misnomer as the "desktop user interface", and I don't think "activity" 
is any more confusing than that.

Can you think of a better word than "activity", that has no other 
meanings, yet will be universally understood?
Activities are task oriented, instead of being tool or application or 
document or window or desktop oriented.
I like the word "activity" better than "task", because it sounds like an 
"activity" could be more entertaining and amusing than a "task" which 
sounds more like hard work or an unpleasant ordeal (like a "sysiphean 

I've always wondered why the old Mac used to separate programs into 
different folders called "Applications" and "Utilities". What's the 
difference? I always had a hard time figuring out which folder to look 
in, or which folder to put new programs into. What's Photoshop? It 
certainly has utility, but it's so big and takes so long to start up 
that it must be an application! And then there were those pesky "desk 
accessories" that had their own place on the apple menu and in the 
system folder...


José Antonio wrote:
> The term "activity" is not aplicable in Brazil, in this sense, as 2
> millions teachers already use it in another meaning. Just will cause
> too much confusion than help the learning work.
> On 4/4/07, Walter Bender <walter.bender at gmail.com> wrote:
>> If a pencil is a tool, then presumably writing is an activity? But in
>> Sugar, we plan to take it even further: the idea is that the writing
>> activity includes peer editing, sharing, collaborating, etc. It is the
>> latter distinction we are trying to make from traditional applications
>> (tools).

More information about the Devel mailing list