slightly long and detailed proposal fordocumentation-translation workflow

Todd Kelsey tekelsey at
Wed Oct 17 16:05:14 EDT 2007

I honestly believe that what Tim Falconer is intending to do with waveplace
could have a fundamental, significant impact on helping the larger olpc
community to develop projects, and get pr, and be a way to help people get
acquainted with how the collaborative stuff can play out. he has a freelance abc cameraman waiting to go and
a teacher. This is why
I sold my tech stock to make funds available (when I need them for my own
non-profit shenanigans) -- and I'm trying to find extra funding. I think
that people will respond to stories, and waveplace is a story waiting to
happen -- and it would be lovely to refer to this in "neo documentation". I
apologize if I'm repeating myself. I was still a bit skeptical about
constructivism but Tim is the one who convinced a skeptic. If I had a
million dollars I'd kidnap tim, hire a publicist and put him on every
television show and media outlet around the world that I possibly could.

-----Original Message-----

From: devel-bounces at [mailto:devel-bounces at]
On Behalf Of Jim Gettys

Sent: Tuesday, October 16, 2007 10:27 AM

To: Steve Fullerton

Cc: devel at; localization at

Subject: Re: slightly long and detailed proposal
fordocumentation-translation workflow

Ah, the manuals are needed to keep teachers and parents in their

"comfort zone".  That the children will teach each other we have no

doubt at all, but older people have different expectations.  And keeping

them comfortable with OLPC is also needed.

Also remember that the collaboration aspects are new, and not what

people have seen before.  I would expect that there is where we should

concentrate our effort most.

                             - Jim

On Mon, 2007-10-15 at 17:09 -0700, Steve Fullerton wrote:

> Hi Ed and all,


> I fully appreciate the detail.  However, IMHO I think that there is

> some re-thinking required re: the traditional "user" documentation.

> The core  of the OLPC (literally one laptop per child; the model does

> not work as well if there is not possession of a laptop for each

> child) is that of collaboration.


> One child learning something and then teaching his/her classmates.

> OLPC machines are not meant to be used in isolation.  You could

> actually make a credible argument that user manuals are bad for the

> project.


> The highly intuitive design of Sugar and the experience of the pilots

> bears this out.  The children seem to do just great without manuals,

> discovery is enhanced, and many of the constructionist ideals are

> realized.


> What do you think?


> On 10/15/07, Ed Trager <ed.trager at> wrote:

>         Hi, Michael,


>         Just a few comments for consideration by everyone:


>         > ...

>         > Doc writing conventions:

>         >

>         > Some linguistic research has been done on "simplified

>         English" as a

>         > subset of English to use for low-level learners, and I think

>         that it

>         > might be a good place to look for ways to simplify the

>         source_docs.

>         > But just thinking intuitively, I have cooked up the

>         following

>         > suggestions in order to generate discussion:

>         >

>         >     * Pronouns.

>         >           o Use the first-person singular pronoun "I" to

>         represent the

>         > author of the docs,

>         >           o the second-person singular pronoun "you" to

>         represent the

>         > reader of the docs, and

>         >           o the first-person plural pronoun "we" to

>         represent the OLPC project.

>         >

>         >           o Examples. "We have designed a screen that

>         switches to

>         > black-and-white to conserve energy. I will explain how to

>         switch your

>         > screen to black-and-white. First, you press the X button on

>         your

>         > keyboard...." Because we want the docs to be easily

>         translated and

>         > easily understood, the tone should be personal, using "I"

>         for the

>         > voice of the writer. This will be easier for amateur

>         translators to

>         > translate and easier for younger readers to understand. This

>         will also

>         > help the writer avoid the passive construction, which is

>         very

>         > difficult for some non-native English speakers to

>         understand.


>         I agree completely that the English passive construction

>         should be

>         avoided at all times.


>         I mostly agree with your suggestion on use of pronouns.  Use

>         of "I"

>         and "we" are fine.



>         ----------------------------------------------------------


>         However, as a native English speaker, I find the use of the

>         pronoun

>         "you" in the imperative mood often quite jarring.


>         Imperative sentences in which the "you" is absent are

>         understood by

>         native speakers of English to convey a softer, less imperative

>         tone.

>         Such sentences are considered more polite. Compare:


>         (A) "First you press the X button on the keyboard."


>         ... versus:


>         (B) "First, press the X button on the keyboard."


>         One or two instances of "you" in imperatives or directions in

>         spoken

>         or written English may not seem too bad, but after a series of

>         them,

>         it becomes irritating.


>         So while I have no objection to simple English which will be

>         easily

>         understood by younger learners of the language, we must also

>         be sure

>         that we do not proscribe an incorrect idea regarding the usage

>         of the

>         pronoun "you" in imperative sentences in English.


>         In short, it is *not* OK to use "you" repeatedly in a series

>         of

>         imperatives or directions (such as instructions for using a

>         laptop).

>         The absence of the pronoun "you" is preferred when giving

>         directions

>         in English.



>         -----------------------------------------------


>         Look again at the sentances Michael used for his example:


>         > I will explain how to switch your screen to black-and-white.

>         > First, you press the X button on your keyboard...."


>         English speakers make frequent use of possessive pronouns, as

>         is the

>         case here with : "your screen" , "your keyboard" .


>         But in many other languages (perhaps most other languages?) we

>         would

>         not use possessive pronouns here at all.  All of these English

>         "your"s, if translated quite directly into foreign languages,

>         results

>         in very annoying and unnatural sounding texts in my

>         experience.


>         So I would advise we try to fix the English from the start by

>         avoiding

>         unecessary invocations of possessive pronouns, especially

>         "your":


>               I will explain how to switch the screen to

>         black-and-white.

>               First, press the X button on the keyboard...."


>         I basically agree with the rest of Michael's suggestions, so

>         that's

>         all the comments I have.


>         -- Ed Trager

>         _______________________________________________

>         Devel mailing list

>         Devel at





> --

> Regards,


> Steve

> ____________________________

> Steven C. Fullerton

> email: fullerton.steve at

> cell/voice mail: 619.339.9116

> ____________________________

> _______________________________________________

> Devel mailing list

> Devel at



Jim Gettys

One Laptop Per Child


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