[Olpc-open] Tools, etc. :-)

Ed Montgomery edm at rocketmail.com
Sat Dec 8 13:20:53 EST 2007

  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.

Precisely.  Too wide open, subjective, etc. I'll drop
it. ;-)

>   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
> more details, please email privately). I don't want
> start filling this list with hundreds of pages of
> articles, links, arguments pro and con, etc.  But
> lots of value as well.  However, without any
> interaction with him to find out his current levels
> 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.

Yes. Insufficient data.  I'll try to squeeze some in. 
I am somewhat intrigued on a couple points.  What
would you recommend as the best, if you could choose
just one?  (Then I'll decide if I should read more

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

And I'm still not convinced :-).  And I don't care to
'judge' anyone.  But I won't hesitate to 'judge'

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

I'd prefer to see what, if any, an 'academic
contribution' has done for the betterment of society,
people, etc., rather than judge on a publish or perish
paradigm, number/amount of books, publications, etc.

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

And, is that a 'good' thing? :-) Personally, I'd
rather have a voice user interface (I can dream, can't
I? :-) (Oh, alright, yes, I'm a Trekkie :-)).  And
this is also very subjective, etc.  (Just ask anyone
to defend their choice of Win/Mac/X, etc. GUIs.)  User
interface is another whole kettle of fish.

  (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.)

Wonderful. And let's hope he continues! :-)

> 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.

I disagree. In fact, I tend to think of a computer as
merely billions/trillions? of switches...the
complexity of the media, etc. is simply a function of
adding switches (adding rows to an abacus?) not so
different from an abacus.  I suppose it depends on
your level of abstraction, etc. 

> 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,
> There must be SOME reason that computers are
> 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?)

"Useful" I would consider a gross understatement :-).
TV is not interactive.  Entirely different kettle of
fish. And who controls the programming on TV?
And yes, I most definitely agree that MS Windows is
the most tragic thing to happen in the history of

  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.  

We agree! (on this point!) Let's hope the world in
this respect changes more quickly than we anticipate.

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.

Like any tool, it can be used for both good,
desireable purposes, or bad, undesireable outcomes. 
It is not the fault of the tool.  It is the people,
and those who use and control the tool that must be
considered.  Hence, this is an education project, not
a computer/laptop project! :-)

-- Ed

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