Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Labyrinth experience

During the last weeks I've been trying to conduct a small experiment on how global volunteer organizations like SugarLabs can cater for the needs of individuals around the world.

All started when Sebastian Silva from Peru suggested in the olpc-sur mailing list that the GNOME application Labyrinth could serve as a good base for a Sugar activity for mind mapping. Teachers in Uruguay, Peru and Panama had been asking for a long time for such a tool, and some people were experimenting with web-based apps, java ports, etc. Labyrinth is a good match for this job because it's written in pygtk as Sugar is, so it's in the category of easiest apps to sugarize.

The experiment is running well and teachers are trying the software, giving some feedback (though not as extensive and detailed as developers would like, we need to work more in this direction) and other people are showing interest in maintaining and further developing the activity. Right now, two people have offered their help: Rafael Ortiz from Colombia and Gary C. Martin from Scotland and I need to make sure that they find fun ways to be useful to the end users.

So the next steps are:
  • further develop the relationship with the teachers (thanks Greg Smith for your awesome presentation on this, slides here),
  • further involve interested individuals like Rafael and Gary,
  • work with the original GNOME project so we can share as much code as possible and we can join forces in improving Labyrinth for all its kinds of users,
  • establish the translation workflow.
Right now teachers are suggesting names for the mind mapping activity, so this is one more chance for them to feel that are part of this effort. A critical item, as only if we get the best feedback they can give, we'll be able to maximize the usefulness of our efforts.

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