[Olpc-open] ENC: Development of applications for children

Edward Cherlin echerlin at gmail.com
Wed Jan 9 20:33:28 EST 2008

On Jan 9, 2008 11:44 AM, Manuel Strehl
<Manuel.Strehl at physik.uni-regensburg.de> wrote:
> Hi again,
> thanks for the replies!
> > Have you been to www.vpri.org
> > It is the website from the View Points Research Institute, from Alan Kay.
> No, not yet, indeed. It looks good, thank you for the pointer!

It's hot stuff.

> > Have you checked out the Human Interface Guide page?
> Yes, I did. It was actually one of the links I mentioned.
> At our seminar we had lots of guidelines on how to develop for older people (big font, high contrast, no fast movements, explain GUI elements, ...) and methods on how to create software that is useful for the elder (take a look at the UTOPIA project, <http://www.computing.dundee.ac.uk/projects/utopia/>). I'm missing something similar for childrens' software in general and especially (because that's OLPC's main target group) at the publications I found related to OLPC.

There is a lot of focus on the mechanics of UIs, such as you mention
from your seminar, and not enough on understanding. In the XO case,
understanding is supported by collaborative discovery. We don't feel
the need for one-word user manuals on controls. Try it. See what
happens. This works much better with children, who are fearless
explorers in such a safe domain, than it does with adults who are more
rigid or more fearful in their thinking. Or both.

A willingness to explore, to build one's own mental maps and models,
is essential for dealing with complex software, complex topics, and
the complex world we inhabit.

The worst UI I know is the one I remember from grade school math. Here
are the approved problems, with a space for one answer each. Then *we*
will grade *you* on your performance. Children feel like the mouse in
Lewis Carroll's poem:

Fury said to a mouse
That he met in the house,
"Let us both go to law.
*I* will prosecute *you*.

"Come, I'll take no denial.
We must have a trial,
For really this morning
I've nothing to do."

Said the mouse to the cur,
"Such a trial, dear sir,
Without jury or judge
Would be wasting our breath."

"I'll be judge! I'll be jury!"
Said cunning old Fury.
"I'll try the whole cause
and condemn you to death."

Instead of that, they could be teaching the computer how to do
arithmetic and what have you. Everybody knows that you learn a subject
better by teaching it.

> Best regards
> Manuel

Edward Cherlin
Earth Treasury: End Poverty at a Profit
"The best way to predict the future is to invent it."--Alan Kay

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