[Olpc-open] Specific vs generalization

Yoshiki Ohshima yoshiki at vpri.org
Fri Dec 7 18:09:43 EST 2007

  Hi, Ed,

> "The software in which kids can open the hood,
> explore, and learn is
> good.  Its UI should invite exploration."
> I would agree with these statements.  However, your
> beginning statement was 'good software', which is much
> more far reaching and general.  Your statement above
> is much more specific, concerning looking at
> algorithms, etc., which I wholeheartedly agree with. 
> But 'good software' covers much, much more than this.

  Well, the context was about education (I stretched it a bit away
from reading/writing, etc., I admit).  Anyway, "defining what is good"
wouldn't take us anywhere.

>   How about Jerome Bruner?
> Insufficient data.  I had a quick look at his
> wikipedia entry (which I will assume is mainly
> accurate :-))
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerome_Bruner
> And immediately saw a few loopholes (which if you wish
> more details, please email privately). I don't want to
> start filling this list with hundreds of pages of
> articles, links, arguments pro and con, etc.  But saw
> lots of value as well.  However, without any
> interaction with him to find out his current levels of
> thinking/understanding, etc., I find that I cannot
> comment on whether I would, IMHO, consider him, or
> anyone else a 'good' or 'bad' academic.

  Insufficient... data?  Read his books.

  I'm not asking you to judge how good he is, so don't worry.  (But
you asked me to give an example.)

  More information about him is around on the net (like about
"MACOS").  However, in general, don't judge a living person from the
bio on Wikipedia.  Among other things, the NPOV way of writing tend to
diminish real contribution the person made.  Nobody is perfect, of
course, and, "loopholes", I could imagine but if you want to point
that out, just post them here.

  You sure doesn't mean that one has to meet the person, and find out
his "current" thinking/understanding to comment on the persons
academic contribution, right?

  (BTW, his theory on psycology has strong influence on the computer
graphical user interfaces used today.)

  (BTW, I attended a lecture given by him a few years ago.  He kept
talking one and half hours standing.  He was 90 years old, but just
like 60 or such.  He is also amazing in that regard.)

> Oh, I dunno.  The abacus, a computing machine, has
> been around for awhile, etc. :-)

  Oh, come on.  Today's computer is not a computing machne but media
and meta-media, you know?  We should be more interested in that
aspect, not the calculating machine aspect.

> Then I guess we'll just have to disagree on this
> point.  I find any suggestion that computers are not
> useful to children is extreme.  Displays a total
> disregard for the overwhelming evidence around us,
> similiar to someone who declares the earth is flat,
> regardless of overwhelming evidence around them, etc. 
> There must be SOME reason that computers are becoming
> more and more ubiquitous, etc. :-)

  Computers can be useful, for sure.  But "they are ubiquitus" cannot
be a reason for claiming it is good.  TV is more ubiquitus but what is
on TV in these days?  (MS Windows?)

  I reiterate basically my sole point; with the idea of more laptop
computers in classrooms lately pushed by the OLPC and other efforts,
the world will change.  But computer is strong technology and the
changes it impose were not/are not/will not be all positive.  It is
better understand what a computer is to prepare ourselves.  For that,
criticism is healthy.

-- Yoshiki

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