[OLPC Brasil] Why call tools "activities"?

Albert Cahalan acahalan at gmail.com
Thu Apr 5 12:25:01 EDT 2007

Don Hopkins writes:

> 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

Actually no. Teachers are comfortable with homonyms, at least if
they are already in common use and there is little chance of conflict.
The problem with "activity" is that you're introducing a completely
new meaning for a word that is already used for something else in
the same contexts.

If a teacher asks "What activity do you want to do?", they sure
don't specifically mean a computer program. An activity is
something you do with playground equipment, with the cafeteria, etc.

> Can you think of a better word than "activity", that has no
> other meanings, yet will be universally understood?

The requirement is not "no other meanings". The requirement is
"no other meanings in the same context". (though "app" does
indeed have no other meanings and is universally understood)

The standard words in English are "app" and "program". Pick one.
Either will be far less confusing than "activity".

> 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 task").

None of those is suitable. It's "app" or "program" in English.

For Brazil, the translators can make this problem go away
even if the C locale remains nonsense. Maybe it's time to make
an en_US translation too.

More information about the Devel mailing list