journal is hard + sugar and the digital age

Carlos Nazareno object404 at
Thu Oct 9 10:15:54 EDT 2008

Hi Tomeu. Some personal feedback:

> 3) Basically - The journal is really hard for people/ kids to use over
> a longer period of time. Kids and teachers can't find things that they
> did unless it was done within the last 30 minutes.
>Could you please elaborate on the difficulties that people have when
>using the journal?

I've experienced the same problem. Items tend to clutter up in the
journal over time, it's like viewing your entire web browsing history.
Its current implementation simply leads to information overload with
the accumulating number of entries.

IMHO, the philosophy of "nothing gets forgotten" with the journal is a
bit flawed because as people we don't even naturally do that. We
selectively choose which information to remember and mark as important
and discard the rest because that's just information overload.

Think about it from a browser paradigm. You bookmark important items
that you want to reuse later on. On the other hand, viewing your
browser history over a prolonged period of time gets pretty unwieldy.

Another problem I've had is that I tried to offload some programs onto
an SD card due to the XO's limited internal storage. This can lead to
hundreds to thousands of files when opening up the SD card in the
journal. The flat heirarchy makes navigation extremely difficult when
you have this many files.

Sure, there's search, but that presupposes that you know the names of
the files you're looking for. What if you stick in something that has
hundreds of files and you were looking for an image file or something
that you didn't know the name of?

Hmm. I think one improvement that can be added to the journal is to
improve the display filters?

Like for example, the ability to filter by delineated date? It would
be a little better if users could browse the journal from a date
range, like the range of 2 weeks to 3 weeks ago only because that's
when the user remembers the activity that was used.

Another one is the ability to view journal entries by name
alphabetically. This would help in browsing through entries.

That being said, is there a possibility of creating a separate file
manager activity? The reality of having to deal with files and folders
is an inevitability that users will eventually go through once they
grow in sophistication and interact in other digital environments like
pcs. I think giving the idea of giving XO users the ability to view
the sourcecode and muck around with them (a much-touted feature of the
XO) requires a sophistication levels above navigating through and
dealing with folders and files.

>could you elaborate on what means for teachers/schools/govts to
>prepare kids for the digital age? It may be that we are not giving
>enough importance to that requirement (?).

*Interoperability with current systems.

The sugar environment fosters a new "closed" paradigm/ecosystem that
is different from pre-established paradigms. The intentional "removal"
of the file and folder paradigm might make transitioning difficualt
and I think users are having difficulty because of it.

Also, for high school students, this means *office applications*.
They're pretty much a requirement in private schools here where I come
from. One of the things we hope do achieve with OLPC is to bridge the
divide between "haves" and "have nots", and that includes giving them
a boost in IT skills (which is one of the biggest attractions of
OLPC). I guess that's why governments or educational ministries
insisted that the XO be able to run windows or no go.

Oh, some more observations slightly off-topic:

Here in Manila, internet cafe rates are now cheap due to extreme
popularity and proliferation. You can go surfing or playing LAN games
for 20 Pesos/hour which is about 42 cents. Going home, I pass through
a depressed area and there are 5 internet cafes in there.

I've seen 6-8 year old street children in groups of about 3, pooling
together money to play 3D realtime strategy games like the newest
command and conquer or counterstrike and take turns at the seat
playing in cafes playing. They have absolutely no problem navigating

Hole in the Wall project all over again.

Only this time they're playing counterstrike and blowing up tanks in
complex 3D RTS games :-/

This is not something new as groups of street kids in the 90s would
frequent arcades and play street fighter 2.

We gotta create content that will compete with that on a fun level,
guys. The rise of casual games and the popularity of stuff like Text
Twist and Bookworm shows that this can be done.

Some info to mull over.


Carlos Nazareno

interactive media specialist
zen graffiti studios
naz at

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