Nasa Sugar

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Context

In Colombia, my country, as others American nations, numerous Amerindian groups still are present. One of those groups is the Nasa community [1], which inhabits in the south-western Colombian Andes.

The Nasa nation has been an oral-tradition culture, Nasa Yuwe (Nasa language) wasn't written until some years ago. Right now, its writing is possible thanks to a unified alphabet, its 32 vowels and 37 consonants could give you an idea of Nasa Yuwe's richness and complexity.

This culture is in danger of disappearing, Nasa people is running some efforts and campaigns to prevent that. Education plays an essential role, it has a bilingual approach, and children learn in schools Nasa Yuwe writing and Nasa activities.

Agriculture is the Nasa main activity, even that, Nasa people use some ICT devices, mobile phones, a limited number of computers, etc.

Traditional Computers' interface was conceived for office working people, the desktop, files, folders, recycle bins and so on, used in the interface are not familiar to Nasa people.

Some of them believe that it would be possible to transform the PC to make it more suitable for its culture, and use the PC as a tool that support the cultural preservation processes. That why this idea is for.

Sugar's interface is great for children, (and not-so-young children, like me ;) ), and I think Nasa children and maybe adults could have a more suitable version, a version that includes cultural elements.

Some initial thoughts

  • The Sugar donut could be replaced by a rhombus shape, a very important

element in the Nasa World view.

  • Community is very important for Nasa people, they don't control

information access, their PC use to don't have passwords. We coulda make emphasis on collaborative features of Sugar/OLPC.

  • Nasa people prefer don't "humanized" pictures. Evaluating the current

icons might be needed.

Previous and further work

The evolution of a Nasa Yuwe word-guessing game, designed taken into account cultural aspects is summarized in Çut_pwese'je (in English). A detailed description in Spanish is avalable in Chapter 5 of [2] screenshots could give an idea to non-Spanish speakers.

A further goal would be to extend the localization concept, go beyond language and get some elements for a cultural-adaptive Sugar.

The idea was born due a failed attempt to localize a desktop environment to Nasa Yuwe, to reduce the Nasa people's digital gap, but it has been realized that programmers' cultural gap need to be reduced first. Some information about that previous work can be found in [3].

About me, I am engineer in electronics and telecommunications from the Universidad del Cauca (the department where the most of Nasa people inhabits), Colombia. Right now, I'm pursuing my Master Research in Human-Computer Interaction in Télécom Bretagne, France.

One warranty for finishing the idea, it's that it'll be part of my final research project. I'll spend around 7 hours per day in the project this summer.

I'd travel in the late September to Colombia to test the outcome.

[1] http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nasa

[2] http://people.debian.org/~santiago/inasac/INasaC_pdfs.tar.gz

[3] http://people.debian.org/~santiago/inasac/

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