[OLPC Brasil] Why call tools "activities"?

Bert Freudenberg bert at freudenbergs.de
Thu Apr 5 20:14:15 EDT 2007

On Apr 6, 2007, at 1:46 , José Antonio wrote:

> Two diferent things called by same word in same context. Children  
> already know this kind of tools (softwares) as  
> "programs" ("programas", in portuguese). Everybody calls software  
> "programa" (just hair-pointed managers calls software  
> "application"). There's no need to call programs "activities", no  
> matter how wonderful would be these programs.

Words shape minds. Now "program" as in "instructions for a computer"   
actually is generic enough to do no harm. But "application  
program" (and that is what is usually meant if you just say  
"program") does harm in artificially forming the idea that you need  
separate programs for specific tasks. Yes this is how it is  
implemented in most systems today but that doesn't actually make it a  
good idea [*]. I'm not particularly fond of the word "activity" but  
it is way better than "application".

Just as an illustration about how bad this mind-shaping already is -  
when I showed a system to university-level students in which you can  
have a "program" draw outside its window they were flabbergasted.  
Each year again. The notion that each application can only draw into  
its own window is so burnt into the minds of people that they do not  
question it any more. Same now in this dicussion - people do not  
actually see the restrictions of their environments, just like  
McLuhan's fish.

- Bert -

[*] "Don't be misled by the enormous flow of money into bad defacto  
standards for unsophisticated buyers using poor adaptations of  
incomplete ideas." --A.K.

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