Talk:OLPC Human Interface Guidelines/The Laptop Experience/The Journal

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Tagging and Meta-Data

Maybe I misread, but it would seem that many of those tags and meta-data descriptions will be generated in some automatic way (particularly the later). If that were the case, there should be some considerations for language and cultural issues.

By this I mean that a meta-data description has cultural values and idioms attached to it. You can't do a simple translation of the term as it will lose all value. There's a local (even community) sense in which foreign words could be translated or adapted (ie: "to 'boot' a machine" is sometimes translated as "'bootear' una maquina"—technically a barbarism, but used nontheless). There should be some way to control the way in which those tags are generated or used... --Xavi 23:28, 6 February 2007 (EST)

I discuss similar issues on Language tools. These issues apply for everything - menus and sourcecode as well as tags. Deal with them in an integrated manner. Homunq 05:20, 28 July 2007 (EDT)

Automatic Grouping and subgrouping of documents based on tags

The Journal will allow advanced searching, sorting and filtering using tags and meta-data information, as the main method kids will use to find/organize their documents. But there are times and use cases where solely using this method isn't enough:

A kid has amassed a large number of objects, after using the XO for some time. It would become usefull if he could browse his entire collection.
A kid forgets all about a drawing he made weeks before. If he stumbled upon it through browsing the collection, he would want to keep it, by "staring" it to make permanent. But since he never thinks of finding it, accidentally stumbling upon it may never occur, in which case it is eventually moved to the school server, and after a while deleted.
Variations of this case, is if a Kid doesn't tag an object, or tagged it with too few terms, or it tagged it with different terms than the ones he's using to search it.

I've read that the School Library while following the Journals method of searching, will also contain a Topics view.

What I'm suggesting is an advanced Topics view version to be available in the Journal. One that automatically organizes the kid's many objects based on tags. Not sure if metadata should be used as well. It would be very powerfull if such a view only used the inherent subjectivity and labeling power of tags (can't find the words to describe my reasoning better).

This is already done in Epiphany, Gnome's web browser, which only lets the user to give Title, Description and Tags to a bookmark, much like the Journal, while providing an admittedly less powerfull search system. It auto-populates a dynamical bookmarks menu, which organizes the bookmarks into topics and subtopics, based on their tags. I remember it being very sophisticated, with such things like: inside a topic, those bookmarks which shared between them some tag(s), would be separated from the others with an horizontal line.

Since this organization would be done automatically for kids, it would remove the burden of manual organization of documents into topics (if it's hard for us to maintain logical and consistent hierarchy, imagine for kids).

HoboPrimate 22:15, 25 June 2007 (EDT)

Journal ghosts?

There are many times that a person might want to remember that something happened without needing access to the output itself. There are four possible states to a journal entry: complete, description without content on the laptop, description on the laptop with content on the server, or content on the server without description on the laptop. The other logical possibilities, and perhaps the last of these, seem less useful to me. Homunq 05:20, 28 July 2007 (EDT)

Automatic Backup and Restore

Would it be possible to backup to another laptop? Or use another media (instead of wireless communication with the server) to transfer things to and from the server? For example two siblings, one of them is sick the other goes to school transporting data/homework/etc. of the sick child to and from the school? Similar to Motoman but also active for this kind of 'transparent' backup.

We've had discussions about implementing a "suitcase" or "messenger" activity, which would allow a child to port another's stuff around, essentially acting like email by foot. Both ends would be electronic, but the gap between the non-connected networks would be bridged by physical movement. If this becomes reality, then I'm sure the ""recipient" could be set to "server". - Eben 12:24, 9 February 2007 (EST)

On a side issue, will the child be capable of explicitely deleting (personal) stuff stored in the server? We've all written/drawn things we don't want around... not even in a backup... ;) --Xavi 12:37, 8 February 2007 (EST)

This is a good point, and I'm not sure the exact answer yet. What I do know is that everything the child makes will be assigned a scope - kind of like privileges - that determine who can see it. This can be private to themselves, open to all of their friends, any private group they are a part of, their class, or anyone. This will add security to the backup, even if it's not removable. We'll see. - Eben 12:24, 9 February 2007 (EST)
Ya know, this sort of indicates two different things that could be important. Sometimes I have something that's important to me or my family or teacher. I want my sister to get my homework to my teacher, and dad want's his letter to get to the other village. But after themessage has gotten to the person who matters, I don't want the messangers to open the left over note. So if it's important, I want it to be a priority, and maybe it's a priority for a period after it's due, but then it becomes less important. Basically, we are talking about either adding explicit importance tags (which burdens the user), or else building an undocumented butler who cleans for you, without asking... Another thing here is what if activity partners place different privacy emphasis on something? This all shows a great need for careful analysis. Is there a set of standard terms to help clarify component or object meanings? --Jeff 00:56, 12 February 2007 (EST)
We're basing much of the security model and also the privacy model on the "chain of trust" idea. With respect to privacy, this means that what you state is certainly a possibility: another participant of an activity I was in might share it with someone outside the group; the friend I gave my drawing to might just show it to someone else I don't know. Of course, this isn't a new problem; this is a problem that every child has faced growing up in school, when notes and photos and other physical media got passed amongst peers, with or without the consent of others. We are certainly emphasizing community on the laptops, but we're not trying to regulate or restrain the community. Many of these problems will be left to the social structures that the children build, since we see this as an important set of skills to learn as well. -Eben 13:26, 13 February 2007 (EST)

Additionally, what about taking advantage of relatively free online data storage services. Google, Yahoo, and other big portal companies offer rather larger repository serives. The network model means that most children will eventually be able to link to the big world wide web through chained paths, so a model of periodic large backup would be very nice. --Jeff

This is already in the works. It wasn't included as part of the initial description because its still in early development and we're not sure exactly how it's going to function yet. The school server will still be the first step, since it will give kids access to everything at least from school, but eventually even the server will reach space constraints. - Eben 12:24, 9 February 2007 (EST)

Eben, as I think about this, I'm sort of wondering if networked mesh drives could become part of the journaling space solution... You're working, and while you are connected, you have networked disk space. So use it. When the mesh goes away, you start filling up your local drives... but if you get that mesh back, it starts moving journal entries to your mesh drives. So we need to keep track of things that are local, and which local things have been meshed. if it's old, but local, it's unique and should be erased. If it's old, and meshed, you'll eventually have access to it again. if you aren't using it today, it can be let go. And some of these servers do have space constraints, but gmail's constraints are so high that it feels unlimited. --Jeff 12:33, 22 2007 (EST)

Personal Information Manager (PIM)

OK, so this all implies that we're thinking of building a custom activity centered around journaling and journal management. Other activities will end up creating memories/notes in the journal that could include clips (forked from the clipboard), Logs (captured from activities), and playmates (captured from shared activities). This entire thing feels a bit like microsoft's outlook. You plan a meeting, share files in the meeting notice, it's email, attachments, and a calender adjustment with a list of attendees. But this implies sugar will go the extra step and take meeting notes for you, since there is also chat information. --Jeff 01:02, 12 February 2007 (EST)

Dependency Handling

Suppose that a student is preparing a report and includes a photograph or two within the text. To avoid copying the photographs, they are instead included by reference in the document. Later, the disk fills, and the Journal suggests deleting these large photographs to reclaim space. The student, thinking they are no longer needed, deletes them, thus breaking the references in the report document. This situation will also occur with video editing, image editing, and potentially many other activities.

To avoid breaking dependencies, the metadata for each file should note the files on which it depends. A dependency should never be suggested for deletion unless all files that depend on it will also be deleted, and users should be warned if they explicitly attempt to delete such files. For efficiency reasons, it may also be appropriate to maintain "reverse dependency" pointers. None of this should be user-visible unless they attempt to delete a dependency. Also, when a student sends an item to another student (or to a teacher), all of its dependencies should be sent with it automatically. Ben 21:44, 11 April 2007 (EDT)


The text says that Notes will be text based only, if I read it correctly. I understand that these Notes are a sort of Diary + Blog for specific entries kids may want to place public.

If so, wouldn't it be better to use instead the simpler wiki engine being developed by OLPC for Notes? This would allow kids to "journal" their events with more than just text, they could embed images, videos (through gnash or a Player plugin maybe?), sounds, eToys (plugin?), and to refer using links to other notes, documents (the users, but also of friends), and websites?

Even if, for simplicity sake, many features of wiki where hidden in the notes, I think that the excellent features of hypertext and wiki should at least be present there, since not only it would give kids the full power of it right from the start, it would also also allow them to easily move to create wiki books, and to create network wikis.

Is the OLPC wiki engine up to this? Even if not using the more advanced features (like embeding music, videos and sound)?

Just my thoughts. HoboPrimate 18:45, 24 June 2007 (EDT)

Remembered that there's a specific page discussing this, at Wiki as a book reader. It's a good place for you to pick ideas in the future. HoboPrimate 20:52, 24 June 2007 (EDT)

Scope and scope management

Above in the discussion page, but less so in the document itself, there is some discussion of sharing files - setting "scope". I'd appreciate some more explanation of how this would work. Some ideas:

  • There should be the possibility for granting read-only or collaborative access to any document. (Though non-BLOBs would get automatic version control through the journal of course). Another possibility: All access is implicitly collaborative, a recipient who doesn't want their changes to show up in the original author's journal must explicitly turn off the collaborative access.
  • Sharing should be automatable using tags. This would simplify things for younger users, and allow giving broad access to some portion of a journal to teachers. However, this makes the tagging metadata a potential security target, and should get some consideration in Bitfrost.
  • How / where do you browse other's documents? In your journal, in "their" journal (your censored view), or in an "everybody but me" journal?

Homunq 14:11, 29 July 2007 (EDT)

The Notion of "Keeping"

Al of this theory is well and good, but... my 8 year old daughter has been using her XO for a week, and she (and I) have not been able to figure out how to reliably resume a Turtle Art activity. I.e. we have not been able to "save", and later resume, a Turtle Art program and drawing. This becomes a major impediment to accomplishing anything.

We have been able to use the Journal to manage Write documents. Perhaps it is just a Turtle Art problem.

By the way: my daughter is NOT an experienced computer user. My wife and I are luddites.

But, furthermore, you say: "Based on the Object model associated with files, each kept Object is, technically speaking, a separate instance of the activity which created it. This eliminates the need to "open" a file from within an activity, replacing the act of opening with the act of resuming a previous activity instance. Of course, a child will have the option to resume a drawing with a different set of brushes, or resume an essay with a different pen, providing "open with" style functionality, but no substitute for an "open" command will exist within an activity's interface."

Now, my daughter is using Turle Art to make nice drawings - but she WOULD like to be able to ornament the output by editing it in Paint. How do you transfer data between Activities to accomplish this?(username:Glew, 20 January 2008)

quick answer: copying and pasting to the clipboardS is the only way I know to transfer data between activities, and it doesn't always work especially with images. If you want to copy text from the browser, it is not intuitive. Most of the time I got the html, with all the formatting commands in plain text, I think when I was in the write activity and did paste or ctrl-v. Then, I think, when I clicked on the clipboard and opened with write, I got just the readable text that I wanted. I have not been able to copy images from browse to paint or anywhere else.
Long Answer: The Silence is deafening! Lucky for me, I didn't receive my XO till March. I am just now getting to the point I feel comfortable posting here. (I had posted a few times before getting a login to this wikidpedia thing, at first I didn't understand why my IP and edit date didn't get auto appended like all the others. Only by chance did I see the discussion of the "main olpc" page or something like that and see some of "rules" for posting, one saying four tildes should be placed at the end. I don't know why that isn't auto done for anything not minor edit. As I looked further, I saw it was not uncommon, as "Glew" above did not "sign" his edit.) But anyways, back to the notion of keeping. There are some things about keeping and resuming that I think are flawed. Example. I start the write activity. After some point, I keep it, let us call it Rev A. Then I make some more changes but decide I don't want to save (we are talking about kids experimenting). I stop. But there are two Journal entries that look the same, Rev A. Later I resume the older one, knowing that is the one I want. Again I do some things that I decide I don't want, and stop. Or perhaps I do some things that make it different enough I call it Rev B and keep. Either way, the Rev A I want IS GONE, it is effectively deleted. In other words, for sugar or olpc or xo to do what I consider intuitive, I must remember to "keep" immediately every time after I resume something from the journal. As far as I can tell, there is no "revert" or quit without saving concepts in this UI.
If I am wrong, please tell me, but it isn't obvious to me where my original rev A went. Also remember I am giving a simple example, in the "real" world we are talking about kids experimenting and any activity. Say in browser, I keep "homepageA". When I resume, it starts from there, great! Then I do some web surfing, then stopping. Next time I resume homepageA, it doesn't start from there. oh. I forgot to "keep" after I resumed. BobUgh 15:50, 20 June 2008 (EDT)