[Etoys] What now ?

Hilaire Fernandes hilaire at ofset.org
Sun Jan 11 04:46:58 EST 2009

2009/1/10 Walter Bender <walter.bender at gmail.com>:
> In regard to your specific examples, you can easily import the output
> of Record into Abiword and you can run the two Activities in parallel
> and share media objects between multiple users. What is the use case
> for a more tight coupling.

That's the point, we don't know exactly what is the point of more
tight coupling. And it is from this point we can have creative way of
using the computer.
Now, in this previous example, if I mention an interactive geometry
activity instead of the Record activity, the coupling will be more
obvious to you as an educated adult: coupling text activities and
interactive geometry canvas may look more obvious. Nevertheless can we
pretend coupling tightly Abiword and Record is (will be) irrelevant?
This is not how I perceive been creative with computer.

I will take another example. A few years ago when I implemented user
programming in DrGeo1.1, I had no idea of the use of such features. I
only know this feature will be an open door for creative users. Indeed
several months later, a math teacher from Italy started to use this
feature in unique way useful to him to expose historical math problems
(a few examples in
http://www.ofset.org/uploadfiles/64/download/libro.pdf), another one
from Taiwan where modeling mechanic problem with it.
All these uses were unthinkable in their exact instantiation, but I
was clearly expecting this instrumentation process .

> activity by activity basis, for example, Arjun Sarwal, the author of
> Measure, integrated data capture directly into Turtle Art. But that
> was a developer, not an end user. As I said, we have a ways to go.

Yes, it is where the Smalltalk/Morph/Etoys has excelled for years.
It pushed this capability in the user land... That's indeed a huge contribution.
Not only Smalltalk/Morph/Etoys makes it possible for user, but
moreover it makes it possible at two levels:
- at the Etoys level, to interlink artifacts
- at a lower Smalltalk level (however still a very higher level
compare to other solution) to design additional artifacts for example.

And yes all this in a very user-friendly environment. Well may be this
one is really the downside of Smalltalk/Morph/Etoys. However project
like Smalltalk Pharo with much fewer resources than Etoys/Sugar/OLPC
shows it can be easily updated and improved.

However all this creative capability in the user land got a price, the
documentation. You really need good documentation to take a chance to
get it used. You need to provide the key to play with the lock, or it
will be show stopper. And better provide such documentation directly
in the laptop.


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