[Edu-sig] music:piano :: math:laptop ?

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Tue Dec 16 18:10:29 CET 2008

On Tue, Dec 16, 2008 at 12:15 AM, Edward Cherlin <echerlin at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Mon, Dec 15, 2008 at 11:16 PM, kirby urner <kirby.urner at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Edward Cherlin's insistent pointing to the XO is helping turn some
>> wheels on my end...
> It doesn't actually have to be an XO. We have projects forming up to
> use Sugar on a Stick with diskless computers. That will allow us to
> take almost all of the discards from the computer refurbishing
> centers.

Yes, I'm glad you point that out.

My agenda is closer to providing more opportunities to eyeball and
tweak open source code in a math learning context, with emphasis on OO
and agile languages, with plenty of eye candy (e.g. spatial geometry
-- includes the flat stuff, with camera position off the plane,
Euclidean axioms OK though not exclusively (shudder)).

But then what I mean by "math learning context" isn't so 1900s, i.e.
includes a lot of what we might call "home economics" (attention to
calories, joules, energy budgets -- lots of subclassing of
DwellingMachine parent class, simulating with Sims) and even aspects
of "PE" (physical education), i.e. outdoor training in GPS (lat/long,
spherical trig), use of "twitch games" (for credit) to learn
multiplication tables, periodic table etc.

In principle, such forward-thinking curriculum could show up Baghdad
or Dubai long before UKers/USAers get their act together, given
domestic resistance to positive futurism among Anglos, obsession with
doomy-gloomy (something about the psychology, insufficient antibodies
to apocalyptic memes maybe).

>> Way cool that Gibson Guitar was a sponsor of OSCON that time, shows
>> how geeks are being seen from a Nashville angle:  have laptop will
>> travel, the solo musician model, except we also form bands.  Really,
>> so many analogies, between musicians and coders.
> Also math and science.

I need to think of musical analogies in the context of my "no solo
coders" precept, as individuals have that ability to be brilliant,
like when they say "take it away, sam" or something ("do it charlie").

You want to leave room for epiphanies, flights of fancy.

But you also need to anchor that in community....  just stuff I think
about at work (large bureaucracy, too easy for mediocre VB and Java
programmers to become indispensable by obfuscating what they do for a

> We're definitely getting uptake among basketball, football, and soccer players.

I'm interested in what you mean by that.

>> How about we start a campaign among tweens and teens called "Where's
>> My Laptop?"
> I wanted to offer child-size t-shirts along with Give One Get One, for
> the point where orders outstrip production. Then you could buy your
> grandchild or whomever a shirt saying "Grandma bought me an XO for
> Christmas, but all I have so far is this funny t-shirt." And then
> offer transfers with the late laptops, for crossing out the complaint
> and saying, "I got it! I got it!"

G1G1 was an interesting campaign, plus I'm supportive of using
T-shirts to advance causes, csn.cto Nirel (metahead) a role model in
this regard:


Jody is csn.cfo:


>> Let's encourage that sense of entitlement we get listening to R0ml,
>> who says gnu math, CP4E, computer literacy (lots of words for it) is
>> what in the old days would be called "basic rhetoric".
>> To participate in civic life, you needed to know how to structure an
>> argument, defend a position.  Well, you still need those skills, but
>> you also need that laptop.  How else do you expect to patch in,
>> participate in the life of democracy.
> Not just that. You have to have a story, like Walt Whitman or Mark
> Twain or Carl Sandburg telling Americans who they are. So far we have
> a hope. But there are stories. Doug Engelbart's hero story leading up
> to The Mother of All Demos, Alan Kay and Seymour Papert as the
> prophets in the wilderness, and a few others.

Yes, storytelling is critical, I agree.

Whereas the rhetoric needs to be inclusive, in terms of inspiring
folks to take action, there's nothing like a working demo that's also

Whereas "working demo" may conjure images of individuals laptops or
applications, I'm more thinking in terms of working communities, maybe
a few hundred people, showcasing what "could be" for others, using a
kind of reality television (well edited) to get the word out.

This is my Project Earthala in a nutshell.  We've done some location scouting.


>> What do we want?  Laptop!  When do we want it?  Now!
> I don't think that this will be a matter of defiant public
> demonstrations. My story (and I'm sticking to it) is that Sugar's
> virtues can sneak into the schools where there isn't even a crack in
> the doors, unnoticed until after they have taken over, and that there
> will be no way to undo the changes, because they make students,
> teachers, and parents happier and more productive.

OK, sounds like a plan.

My plan is a little different (it's not either/or), which is to
continue building indigenous coding capabilities within our Silicon
Forest, including through Saturday Academy and some of the public
schools (including charter -- all schools start with a charter of some
kind so "charter school" really just means "more recently established
school" in translation).

However, there's lots we might do in the private sector for profit,
including providing more curriculum through coffee bar and casino
outlets (thinking more of we adults all of a sudden).

That's not quite the same kind of programming (usually), is more
commercial in flavor (Jack Daniels commercial), however the spatial
geometry I'm working with (per rbf.py) brings a lot of bright,
positive, futuristic content to the screen, be that an XO or something
more suitable for older people, maybe no longer "in school" per se,
but still frequenting educational institutions of various kinds.




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