Archive/Current Events/2012-06-10

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Sugar Digest

1. I am in Lima in transit to Amazonas, where I will be helping run a workshop for teachers. I had the opportunity to catch up with a few old friends from DIGETE, including Victor Castillo, Hernan Paches, and Rocio Flores. I also had a chance to see some exciting projects, including a nice collection of math activities developed by Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería in partnership with a private company, and some integration work by another local company, Advance Computer Corporation, which is distributing Sugar and GNOME on Fedora 16 across a variety of platforms. In their GNOME shell, they include Etoys and Scratch, and I pointed out that Turtle Art is also available.

The focus of the workshop will be to galvanize the teachers of the Amazonas region, to get them past the stage of just using the laptop to using the laptop for learning. We (a team from Sugar Labs, OLPC, DIGETE, and Escuelab) plan to engage the teachers in problem solving, where they learn to utilize Sugar to solve problems and to transfer these skills to their classrooms.

2. For those of you who follow the coming and going of the Sugar Labs oversight board (SLOB), you know that we have been engaged in an on-going discussion about Local Labs. The bottom line is that the structure we had envisioned when we created Sugar Labs -- a loose federation of local labs working collectively towards a common goal -- is not viable under the more constrained structure of our parent organization, the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC). At the most recent SLOB meeting, we discussed new language [1], [2], [3] proposed by the SFC for the Sugar Labs wiki essentially declaring that Sugar Labs Local Labs are not officially endorsed by or affiliated with Sugar Labs or the Software Freedom Conservancy. These changes were approved by SLOB by a vote of 5 in favor, 2 opposed. I will be making changes to the Trademark and Local Labs pages in the wiki to reflect these changes.

There is an on-going discussion as to how Sugar Labs and/or a New Company might be able to support the efforts of the numerous unaffiliated volunteers, developers, and deployment specialists who have created Sugar, and educate others on how to use it. But in essence, a formal, affiliated Local Labs model is off the table.

3. Last weekend, I was on a panel about business and technology at my 35th college reunion. I brought up the theme of entrepreneurship, arguing that it was a necessary component of any plan for economic growth. I went further to suggest that we could better prepare children to be critical thinkers and intellectual risk takers and help to instil a culture of entrepreneurship. I was pretty much slammed by the rest of the panel, who consider entrepreneurship to be an exception, not the rule. I think some of the disagreement is one of scale. When I speak of entrepreneurship, I am not talking about $100 billion IPOs. I am talking about small business. The titans of industry with whom I was debating seem to have no interest in small business -- perhaps because there is no money in it for Wall Street -- but small business is where most jobs are created and, arguably, where most innovation occurs. There is little, if anything we can do to influence the big boys -- yes, they are by-and-large male and white -- but we can learn to do our own thing and excel.

4. Agustin and Daniel are at it again: This time they are writing an animation activity [4], [5]. While the current functionality is pretty simple -- you could do the same thing using a stack of Show blocks in Turtle Art -- they intend to move in the direction of non-linear editing -- a distinct hole in the Sugar activity repertoire.

5. Manuel Quiñones (with encouragement from Lionel Laské) has written a "hello world" activity using Enyo. It includes all the boilerplate code that is needed to display an index.html inside a Sugar-activity canvas. You can put your own "payload" in the "data" directory found in the activity bundle.

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