Summer of Code/2010/Insights

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What is your name?

  • Paul Rosenzweig

What is your email address?


What is your Sugar Labs wiki username?

  • Paulrosenzweig

What is your IRC nickname?

  • PAR1700

What is your primary language? (We have mentors who speak multiple languages and can match you with one of them if you'd prefer.)

  • English

Where are you located, and what hours do you tend to work? (We also try to match mentors by general time zone if possible.)

  • Chicago/Boston
    Normal working hours, but since it'll be summer, that can easily be shifted.

Have you participated in an open-source project before? If so, please send us URLs to your profile pages for those projects, or some other demonstration of the work that you have done in open-source. If not, why do you want to work on an open-source project this summer?

  • I have not, but I have two reasons for wanting to dedicate a summer to Sugarlabs:
    • I like the ideology of open source. While I'm a staunch capitalist, the ability of software to be replicated at no cost creates possibilities that still baffle the old-school business types. Software really does want to be free. I'd really like to help this happen.
    • Also, I'm currently a CS major at a liberal arts college. The largest programming projects that I work on are accomplished in a matter of days. It would be a great learning experience to have a project of this scale.

About your project

What is the name of your project?

  • Insights

Describe your project in 10-20 sentences. What are you making? Who are you making it for, and why do they need it? What technologies (programming languages, etc.) will you be using?

  • What does a child do when he/she learns something new? He/she wants to tell someone about it.

    Sugar should harness the power of that impulse. I propose a new activity called "Insights". In this activity children would post a URL along with a brief response to the prompt "I just learned...". Students would easily share what had just sparked their interest, and they would also see the Insights of many other students with similar interests.
    This would essentially constitute an educational take on many existing social news services. Replacing "up-votes" with a matching system based on age, location, and previous Insights that the browsing student has liked would create a much more personalized system. The inclusion of the prompt "I just learned..." would constrain the type of content provided. Also, the student providing the Insight would be forced to concisely consolidate and reflect on what they just learned.
    In addition to the activity in Sugar, this project would necessitate sending small amount of text data over the internet. I was thinking of creating the server component with Django to facilitate database use, but I'm open to other ideas.

What is the timeline for development of your project? The Summer of Code work period is 7 weeks long, May 23 - August 10; tell us what you will be working on each week. (As the summer goes on, you and your mentor will adjust your schedule, but it's good to have a plan at the beginning so you have an idea of where you're headed.) Note that you should probably plan to have something "working and 90% done" by the midterm evaluation (July 6-13); the last steps always take longer than you think, and we will consider cancelling projects which are not mostly working by then.

Week 1
Create a rough GUI for activity
Weeks 2-3
Create a backend for the local activity that interfaces with both the GUI and, over http, the server component
Weeks 4-5
Create server component that figures out who would be interested in what Insights and distributes information accordingly
Weeks 6-7
Clean up!

Convince us, in 5-15 sentences, that you will be able to successfully complete your project in the timeline you have described. This is usually where people describe their past experiences, credentials, prior projects, schoolwork, and that sort of thing, but be creative. Link to prior work or other resources as relevant.

  • I'd guess that interest and motivation are the best predictors for GSOC success. Because this project represents the intersection of two of my interests I would be motivated to push past whatever hang-ups might pop up.
    • I've always been interested in education. Senior year in high school I wrote my final english paper about the need to personalize education in large public schools. Last year, my final paper for a class on cognitive development was a proposal to use Sugar in the Head Start Program (an US government low-income early education program).
    • As I mentioned, I'm a CS major, but so far this interest has remained isolated from my interest in education. I've learned a bunch of languages in school, but my favorite language is Python. Like everyone else, I love the clean simple syntax.
  • With a project that is right in the middle of my interests, I'd have enough drive to complete the project, and furthermore do it well!

You and the community

If your project is successfully completed, what will its impact be on the Sugar Labs community? Give 3 answers, each 1-3 paragraphs in length. The first one should be yours. The other two should be answers from members of the Sugar Labs community, at least one of whom should be a Sugar Labs GSoC mentor. Provide email contact information for non-GSoC mentors.

  • This activity would help to preserve the intrinsic motivation to learn in every child. While a structured curriculum for young learners has undeniable benefits, this would provide an ancillary learning opportunity where children would be share their independent insights and receive the benefit of learning from like-minded peers.
  • Anyone else can feel free to contribute here!

Sugar Labs will be working to set up a small (5-30 unit) Sugar pilot near each student project that is accepted to GSoC so that you can immediately see how your work affects children in a deployment. We will make arrangements to either supply or find all the equipment needed. Do you have any ideas on where you would like your deployment to be, who you would like to be involved, and how we can help you and the community in your area begin it?

  • There are many schools and camps within 20 min of where I live, so this shouldn't be a problem. The logistics can be worked out later.

What will you do if you get stuck on your project and your mentor isn't around?

  1. IRC
  2. Mailing list

How do you propose you will be keeping the community informed of your progress and any problems or questions you might have over the course of the project?

  • I've always wanted to have a blog!


My screen shot

We want to make sure that you can set up a development environment before the summer starts. Please send us a link to a screenshot of your Sugar development environment with the following modification: when you hover over the XO-person icon in the middle of Home view, the drop-down text should have your email in place of "Restart." See the image on the right for an example. It's normal to need assistance with this, so please visit our IRC channel, #sugar on, and ask for help.
What is your t-shirt size? (Yes, we know Google asks for this already; humor us.)

  • Medium

Describe a great learning experience you had as a child.

  • During elementary school vacations we would have "Make Your Own Homeworks". As the name implies we would go wherever our curiosity led us and present it to the class when we were back from break. I remember growing bacteria in various medias and testing the density of snow at different altitudes. From my peers' presentations, I learned everything from how to make certain candies to how sonar works.

Is there anything else we should have asked you or anything else that we should know that might make us like you or your project more?