Wednesday, May 21, 2008

In defense of SUGAR

Have I mentioned how much I love love love the Hood Internet? I am always impressed when a project is able to straddle the intersection of theory and practice, and to do so seemlessly. The idea behind the Hood Internet, apparently, is that people no longer have time to listen to both hip-hop/R&B AND indie rock, so the two djs who are the Hood Internet have made it their mission to mash up the best and the worst of the two genres, and the results are nothing short of spectacular. Standout tracks for me were R Kelly/Broken Social Scene, Project Pat/Shout Out Louds, and the ABSOLUTELY FREAKIN' ASTOUNDING Common/Bloc Party track (courtesy of Dr. J). All tracks are freely available (through zShare, which can be an awful pain, unfortunately), and if you get a chance, suport the Hood by checking them out live at various music festivals.

I love my XO, and what One Laptop Per Child stands for. There has been a lot of talk recently about Sugar breaking away from OLPC, culminating in the recent foundation of Sugar Labs, and this can only be a good thing. For me personally, the Sugar interface presents an incredible shift away from the time-wasting and procrastination which have plagued my past endeavours. In a similar vein, I have been really impressed in the past with the simplicity of the operating system, if you would call it that, in the original Alphasmart word-processor. The Alphasmart has now evolved into the Dana, a cool word-processor designed for students, which runs PalmOS, but the original OS consisted of 8 buttons each representing a file. Click the button and start writing or editing. This leaves no scope for time-wasting. With Sugar, you benefit from a similar simplicity. When I open up my journal (the Sugar activity manager is called the journal), I see links to the last 10 activities I have been working on. More are available if I scroll down, but I rarely do, since, chances are, I want to resume one of these ten activities, even if I have no activity in mind when I turn the laptop on. When I complete an activity, for instance, by finishing up a document, I back it up on the SD card and remove it from the journal

Another innovation that raises the Hood Internet one level beyond is their use of photochoppery to enhance user experience: each audio mashup is accompanied by a visual mashup, showing the various artists hanging out, often in unusual circumstances. These images are offered for comic effect, but the effect is perfect, and well-executed and effortlessly ironic. I am myself a fan of the independent rock, however, I do find it often lacking in old-school Elvis-style libido, which, as Kurt Cobain taught us, rhymes with mosquito.

I can see the advantage to this for a child or a student or myself, as a writer; in my professional capacity, I have spent countless hours digging about for a particular document on Windows, but I deal with countless documents. When I am writing at home, however, I may have two or three documents in progress, but not more than this, and by being able to access "the last thing I was doing," quickly and efficiently, with no mucking around, I am saving time.

This is one reason I like Sugar, and one way it does something for me that Windows, or for that matter KDE or OSX, does not.


John Cougar Milliken said...

Whew! For a moment there, I thought you were going to defend Bob Mould's post-Husker Du snoozefest.

Anonymous said...

I am reading this article second time today, you have to be more careful with content leakers. If I will fount it again I will send you a link