Kicks Condor

#youth

I use three main tags on this blog:

  • hypertext: linking, the Web, the future of it all.

  • garage: art and creation, tinkering, zines and books, kind of a junk drawer—sorry!

  • elementary: schooling for young kids.

28 Mar 2019

‘Yoshiro sometimes wished that instead of his grandson Tomo were a character in one of his novels. That way there would be no need to get angry, and also much more fun for writer and readers.’

— p. 77, The Emissary by Yoko Tawada

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12 Mar 2019

Reply: Rabbits Are Good People

1uxb0x

But of how many rabbit holes? And how deep are they? And what rabbits dug them?

Tell me, 1uxb0x—your name is so like Linux to me. (Because of ‘fluxbox’ which was my favorite back when I was only probably three times your age.) I think you are still deciding on a name though—is that right?

Your “Notes” and “Free Writing” pages are solid gold.[1] You are clearly a very hard worker—I can’t tell if you are hard on yourself or just very determined. You have a lot of things you want to do in your life, that’s for sure.

I like your “Free Writing” pages—and I do the same thing myself. When I am writing, I like to just write something that I see. Almost like taking a photograph, but I am writing it down. I think most people like to write what they are feeling, but that often causes me to stop and think too much. But I just want to write something—and they are very fun to read back on.[2]

As for your “Notes”—I like pages like this. Or pages like this one about your dad and your sense of morality. You might feel that this page is very disorganized and messy—but I find it to be absolutely readable and I can tell where copy-and-paste is happening and where you are writing.[3] I have a friend who will very much enjoy reading your writings and I hope it is okay if I show him. (He will probably have some excellent advice as well.)

Ok, for now, au revoir, fellow human.


  1. Or, flakes of solid gold, if they happen to be smaller pages. Or boxes of sticky pencils, if they happen to be lists of random thoughts that are in your head that day. ↩︎

  2. My grandmother used to read me her journals when I would visit her. She would start by reading a few funny e-mails she got, but inevitably she would end up pulling out a volume of her personal journals. Many of my relatives didn’t enjoy that she would do this—and they thought it was anti-social or maybe impolite of her—but I always found it quite charming. I loved to drink tea while she would read to me. And her entries were much like your “Free Writing”—It is July 3rd. There is a blue van parked outside the house that has been there all week. One of the kids peeked inside and said that it was filthy. It sure does stink. They are also selling a new kind of cinnamon roll at the grocer’s across the street— ↩︎

  3. Your writing reminds me very much of Édouard Levé. I am sorry to compare you to him—because he killed himself—but I assure you that you only remind me of his writing style. I’m afraid I don’t know you as a person. I hope you realize that I am paying you a very sincere complement. You are doing very well in your writing. I hope you are enjoying it, because it is fun to read. (No lie. I think you could publish a book of these “Notes” pages and it would make waves in the literary world. But don’t do that. I like you better as a wiki kid than as a literary hootytoot.) ↩︎

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11 Mar 2019
29 Oct 2018

Reply: Children’s $hows

Eli Mellen

Kids shows are weird. Many of the contemporary kids programs I’ve come across (especially stuff geared towards toddlers on streaming services) seem to follow a similar pattern:

  • A group of main characters connected by either proximity or “vocation.” No parents, nor guardians really. Just elders who are expert in their field

  • Characters have clearly defined social roles (e.g. a train responsible for moving freight)

  • Narratives revolve around characters either learning to fulfill their roles or failing to do so, and then realizing that others suffer when they don’t meet their responsibilities

Are these Neo-Capitalist fairy tales?

I wonder if it’s possible for children’s television to ever be anything but that—considering how much money is required to produce television.

  1. I wonder if it’s possible for children’s television to ever be anything but [Neo-Capitalist fairy tales]—considering how much money is required to produce television.

    I think so, yes -- especially as kids get older (see Adventure Time, Steven Universe, Hilda). And, while many shows I've found fit the pattern that I described, I think that some break the mold, or at least problematize it. 2 examples of this are the Magic School Bus and a show called Tumble Leaf. Tumble Leaf is most interesting to me because it seems to take place in a nearly post-apocalyptic setting that is absolutely awesome. Shaun the Sheep is another interesting example, where, without dialog relationships are all implied, leading to a show more in the vein of the Looney Tunes built around slap-stick hi-jinx.

    There are also a number of web-based shows that I've been keeping an eye on lately -- mostly distributed over YouTube which is its own sort of Neo-Capitalist nightmare -- and I wonder if there is where we'll see the next Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood?

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I often hear that kids today are ‘entitled’—but shouldn’t they be? Do we expect every generation to rebuild from scratch? Yes, in some ways a human has to—but I do hope that there can progressively be more of an inheritance that goes to every human child.

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28 Aug 2018

Reply: Caution: Chromebooks

Eli Mellen

Hey Kicks! I’d be interested in your thoughts on this piece about how Chromebooks (and I guess iPads, too) potentially limit students’ ability to push the boundaries of computing.

I’m not an expert on all grades—and I’m only three years deep into my research on the grades I specialize in, which is 1st through 3rd in the U.S. I have spent a bit of time in 4th and 5th—Chromebooks are very useful to these grades and are a step forward. (From no computer 😆.)

I have such a different perspective from articles such as Stager’s that I just don’t know where to begin! And since this is an off-handed comment, I’m not going to dig up citations—but hope to do more of that soon on my blog.

On the topic of laptops:

  • Trackpads are a huge problem. Childrens’ hands get extremely tired trying to manipulate them. So an article that mentions a laptop without emphasizing a mouse—I realize this seems like a small thing, but it isn’t!
  • To say a Raspberry Pi is better—I just can’t imagine. I did RPi stuff in after-school clubs but the setup and takedown is insane. And you don’t want your kids behind giant glowing tombstone-sized screens. They also are totally underpowered—they take longer to boot and get going—so it seems funny to criticize Chromebooks as not being beefy, then mention… RPi?
  • To say that a Chromebook can’t fulfill Papert’s and Solomon’s list smacks as disingenuous—it’s just that there is a lot of elitism around what is proper technology. Just off the top of my head: Sphero, Twine and Voxel Builder are legit tech. Scratch and Scratch Jr. are legit—but are aging. I looked down on these, too, until I saw what kids were doing with them.

There was also a project that Linden Labs was doing on iOS called Blocksworld that was fantastic, but everyone ignored it (and their in-app purchases were awful.)

Since my focus is young kids, I feel (and the research seems to be showing more and more) that tablets are the sweetest computer at that age. A pre-reader just cannot navigate a keyboard yet. And a tablet is not a computer for mere consumption for them—armed with the right software, they will write, record, create visuals of all kinds, it totally opens them up. I hope to show more of the projects that I do with the kids because I think it will be eye-opening.

For me, the hardware issue is pretty easy at present: iPads for up to 3rd grade; Chromebooks thereafter. The more interesting discussion—the software—is where we should spend our time. And also, there is a limit to how much time you can spend with technology in the younger grades, for motor skill developmental reasons.

If I am off, I am always glad to be directed to papers I’ve missed!

  1. Thanks for sharing these insights! Reading them, I think you are totally right that it is a bit wonky to say (as I did!) that a Raspberry Pi is a better choice than a Chromebook. I also think you are 100% on the nose re: tech elitism. As the father of a young child, I'm heaps intrigued by what you've said about iPads and young kids (especially those who cannot read, yet). I've played a little bit with some apps meant for kids, and in a past life, before I confused myself with a liberal arts education I was set on becoming a pre-school/kindergarten teacher. If I ever go back to school I'd most certainly be interested in exploring how to design systems (digital, physical, and otherwise) with children in mind, e.g. what does a public transit system for kids look like.

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A Kindergartener’s Best Computer is About to Die

I think the iPad Mini could have reshaped pre-reading education, but it didn’t get a chance to.

The iPad mini, which was last upgraded in 2015, and the 9.7-inch iPad, last refreshed in March, won’t be upgraded, a person familiar with the company’s plans said.

Chromebooks are the new fashion in elementary school. They are cheap; they are everywhere. And they are unusable by kids in kindergarten through, in some case, third grade.

Sure, by now children can do some rudimentary typing and mouse flicking. But if you think trackpads are awful for adults, you should observe children using them. Tears, people.

I like this—from an abstract I saw recently:

The choice of the proper device can lead to benefits in terms of user engagement, which often is the prerequisite for learning. There are also additional dimensions to consider, as the usability and the physical fatigue. Their undervaluation, in an educational context, can hamper the successful outcome of the experience.

The iPad Mini was the first device in a very long time that I was truly excited about. In my mind, the most underserved group in our educational system is the pre-reading group from K-2, which cannot be served by the current Internet and which are largely given mobile edutainment apps.

Despite that—the touchscreen is watershed technology for this group. And younger:

Children as young as 24 months can complete items requiring cognitive engagement on a touch screen device, with no verbal instruction and minimal child–administrator interaction. This paves the way for using touch screen technology for language and administrator independent developmental assessment in toddlers.

In my experience, using Chromebooks and iPads among these groups, the tablets far outshine—a child is able to immediately speak its language. Sure, time spent learning a Chromebook can be useful. But making the device an end unto itself is part of our problem—language is technology and technology is language.

The language that toddlers are picking up on their parents’ phones can be built upon in school. This is a great benefit—since it has been very difficult to map gamepads—another similar ‘language’ form—to education.

And yet, we have so many problems:

  • The software has not caught up. We are so impatient to move on that we don’t take the time to utilize amazing technology that is still trickling its way down to children.
  • The stock market has moved on. Apple is end-of-lifing the iPad Mini for its poor sales. Despite tremendous evidence that this device has the ability to transform the lives of a specific group of pre-readers (and, I would also argue, the lives of autistic and special ed students—who I’ve seen similar results with), Apple is ready to just leave these groups to Google in pursuit of further growth, when they should have the freedom now to make a contribution like this.
  • Mobile devices are still seen as lesser technology in education. Yes, for adults, a mobile device can be a handicap. But to a child, this perspective is reversed—they can actually work on mobile devices. They can create, they can express, their abilities are enhanced.

Apple has recently put a $299 price for schools on their standard iPad, but Chromebooks are still eating them alive. I’m afraid that this signal away from the iPad Mini could set us back for the foreseeable future.

If only we could see an era where a $199 iPad Mini flourished among second grade and lower. This age group needs a breakthrough.

  1. Hey Kicks! I'd be interested in your thoughts on this piece about how Chromebooks (and I guess iPads, too) potentially limit students' ability to push the boundaries of computing.

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01 Aug 2018

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PLUNDER THE ARCHIVES

This page is also on dat.

MOVING ALONG LET'S SEE MY FAVORITE PLACES I NO LONGER LINK TO ANYTHING THATS VERY FAMOUS

philosopher.life, the 'wiki'/'avatar'/'life' of h0p3. serious rabbithole. k0sh3k. j3d1h. luxb0x.

nathalie lawhead of so many good things, where does one begin. T, U, I.

surfpals: things by j, also joe jenett (of linkport), brad enslen (of indieseek), 'web curios' at imperica.

an eye on: ᛝ ᛝ ᛝ — lucid. jacky.wtf, fogknife, tiv.today, j.greg, box vox, whimsy.space, caesar naples.

indieweb: .xyz, eli, c.rwr, boffosocko.

nostalgia: geocities.institute, bad cmd.

true hackers: ccc.de, fffff.at, voja antonić, cnlohr, esoteric.codes.

chips: zeptobars, scargill, 41j.

dwm, julia, tridactyl these are things you'll want on linux.

neil c very famous but should be a world icon.

the world or cate le bon you pick.

sammyclassicsonicfan the original teen rage adventure.

innovation.isotropic.org probly the best carl chudyk game.

and opinionated gamers for non-chudyk game analysis.

my twitter. my github. minor things.