An OLPC Development Model

Bert Freudenberg bert at
Fri May 9 18:13:54 EDT 2008

On 09.05.2008, at 20:31, david at wrote:

> Bert,
>  if you try and say that the entire world is wrong in how it writes  
> software,

Actually, that's exactly what I think, and "entire world" includes  
yours truly ;)
But this isn't the place to talk about that (if you're curious, visit  
VPRI [*]).

No, it's not foremost about how the software is written, but about how  
it is presented to the user. Unfortunately, interface design is much  
harder than just writing software.

> and only software specificly written for the Sugar environment  
> should be available to the children, you are doing them a great dis- 
> service.

That's not what I meant or wrote, in my other message I did state that  
"unmodified Linux software should run as well as possible in Sugar".

> it's fine to produce an alternate approach, but to bet-the-business  
> on that approach with no fallback is betting that you know better  
> then the rest of the world. it's possible that you are right, but  
> not very likly.

It's not as if these ideas are brand new. Bits and pieces have been  
developed over the last 30+ years. They just have not been implemented  
and tested at large scale yet.

> many people have pointed out the limitations of the journal approach

You are looking at the incomplete implementation of the first design.  
Unsurprisingly it needs more iterations.

> you are optimizing for the beginner so much that once they have used  
> the system for a short time it will no longer be suitable for them.

This is a valid concern, but I don't see the Journal metaphor reaching  
its limits yet, by far.

For example, the fastest way for me to retrieve a file is typing it in  
the system-wide search box on my machine, or into google. It doesn't  
matter where in the file system hierarchy or on which server it is  
stored. That is pretty much what the Journal would do, too. Also, the  
Journal will allow tagging, which is equivalent (but more powerful) to  
a directory hierarchy. Etc.

We do not want a dumbed-down environment. It should be as powerful as  
any out there, and hopefully it will become even more powerful. There  
should be fences limiting power initially, but also gates that lead to  
more freedom. Ultimately children should not be restricted in any way  
by how the software is built. Which is why we insist on open-source,  
and also why we are not satisfied by the UI status quo.

- Bert -

[*] see
  the research proposal:
  and first-year report:

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