View Source question

Walter Bender walter.bender at
Mon May 19 06:59:24 EDT 2008

>I don't recollect reading about any effort to pick a standard - de facto or
> otherwise. Any other interpretation is revisionist history. I

Building a system that was open and discoverable was a goal from the
very beginning--we wanted to go "beyond black boxes." But you are
correct is saying that that goal could be served in many ways.

We had a number of discussions with the team from Viewpoint Research
about the merits and practicality of various approaches and decided on
Python as the primary development language for reasons that may or may
not have been valid in retrospect. But we also, from Day One,
supported a plethora of development environments, such as Etoys. We
didn't have the resources to everything from scratch and even if we
did, it isn't clear that providing just one right way is the best way
to build a learning machine.

> Creating content that is culturally and personally meaningful to children
> across the world is a huge challenge.

The thorny issue of content has also been a subject of debate from the
very beginning. The gist of the debate was in regard to the proper
balance between OLPC providing content vs countries and 3rd parties
taking responsibility vs community content vs providing tools for
children and teachers to provide/localize content. We haven't yet done
enough along any dimension. Just the framing of the debate itself is
probably flawed.

> So, what do field experiments with kids reveal about "View Source"?

There are no such experiments to date that I am aware of, but there is
some anecdotal evidence, such as the children in Galadima creating
their own Igbo spelling dictionary. They didn't need to modify the
source code, but they--I believe--looked at how he English spelling
dictionary was structured and mimicked it. It was a real moment of


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