[sugar] Remarks on the Work of Sugar (kid contributions)

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Thu Jul 24 07:29:44 EDT 2008

I don't think anyone would argue that we need better tools for
software development on the XO. There has been a latent Develop
activity in the works that occasionally gets a boost from the
community (want to jump in?). I would argue that a bigger stumbling
block than problems with Sugar and "interpreted languages" is a lack
of good affordances. In particular, the screen is small, so you have
to keep a lot around in your head. (As Alan pointed out in a recent
post, this may not be as great a liability as I believe--Knuth's "desk
checking" didn't hold him back, but he is somewhat special in the
world of programming). One idea that has also been kicking around for
a while is to take advantage of the fact that most deployments involve
multiple laptops, so once could spread the debugging task out across
multiple windows on multiple machines. (Perhaps the Sugar
collaboration model (and X-Windows) will come to the rescue of the
Sugar development problem.)

The good news is that there has been a great deal of innovation with
the XOs already. The children at Galadima made their won spelling
dictionary for Igbo; the children in Thailand came up with some
innovative uses of TamTam for orchestral performances that also
incorporate indigenous instruments; there have been many innovative
uses of the sharing feature in write to encourage peer editing of

None of these innovations involve hacking code -- yet -- but they are
all part of a cultural shift in school that is synergistic with the
ideals of appropriation of not just software, but of ideas. Not a bad


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