journal is hard + sugar and the digital age

Edward Cherlin echerlin at
Thu Oct 9 19:56:36 EDT 2008

On Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 7:15 AM, Carlos Nazareno <object404 at> wrote:
> 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.

How about the Gmail method, in which you archive messages when you are
done with them, but you can tag messages, set filters, and search

> 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.

I recommend installing Midnight Commander for file management.

yum install mc

It is text-mode, so it runs entirely in a Terminal session, and
doesn't need to be Sugarized.

If you think that this is too much for students, we can easily rip out
unneeded functions.

>>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 (?).

It clearly does not mean supposing that the tools of today will be
around in the same form in twelve years when our newest students will
graduate. So it must mean learning to adapt.

> *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.

You don't think that Free Software for the office makes the grade?

If we could start teaching students Office 2012 today, I would
consider it. If the alternative under discussion is teaching Office
2000, don't bother.

> 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
> windows.
> 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.

We need to find ways of showing that learning is fun or better than
fun when done right. Which the schools aren't helping with.

"Euclid alone has looked on Beauty bare."--Edna St. Vincent Millay
> Some info to mull over.
> -Naz
> --
> Carlos Nazareno
> interactive media specialist
> zen graffiti studios
> naz at
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