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Inventing a New Paradigm: SugarLabs and the Sugar UI

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If you had to teach someone who had never used a computer before on how to open a word processor, write a document, save and share that document with others, how would you begin? You might show them how doing these tasks on a computer are similar to their analog counterparts. How do you teach someone to configure a wireless network and connect to the internet if the very concepts of a network or the internet are foreign? On top of that, how do you create software that encourages learning through exploration, trial, and error? This was the task set before the software developers at One Laptop per Child, and now at SugarLabs. Have they succeeded? Or has it all been a costly mistake.

To say that the technology industry moves quickly would be understated. Firms must innovate, adapt and grow, or fail. Two years ago when One Laptop per Child began shipping their XO-1 laptop, they defined an industry. People were excited not for OLPC’s mission, which always seemed to be a footnote, but for a diminutive inexpensive laptop. Often, the laptop was stated to include a custom distribution of Linux called Sugar that was built to help kids learn. But Sugar is more than just a Linux distro.

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