Are there any folks on the Squeak list who are either ...

John Voiklis voiklis at
Thu Jul 4 14:34:19 PDT 2002

> Jimmie Houchin wrote:
> [snip]
> I am a home-schooling father of 8. I would love to see the home-school
> community adopt Squeak and use it to create home-schooling educational
> materials. There is little educational software I see that could be done
> as well and better in a living interactive system like Squeak.

I agree; that is why my organization, Red Figure Foundation, is making
Squeak the basis of all the work we plan to do with home schoolers and
others looking for alternatives to rote learning for standards testing. Put
simply, Red Figure plans to function something like a digital media
company--publishing books and games, exhibiting visual artwork, producing
plays, and broadcasting audio and video programming, all of which will be
produced by kids through Web-based multimedia authoring tools (i.e. Squeak).
A further twist is that kids will be expected to do more than idly consume
content; they will be encouraged to participate as producers--manipulating,
changing, and republishing content (public teaser projects can be found at; also try and for more
info). By focusing on media production, we hope to attract both boys and
_girls_ (an issue on this list) to work on something that holds meaning for
them and, in the process, strengthen/develop skills in programming, math,
language, and analytical and abstract thinking--all of which come
inextricably into play when producing a book, a play, a song in Squeak.

It is funny that you should mention libraries at this time: a potential
donor brought up the idea of setting up Workshop kiosks in public libraries
(the idea was to use PlayStation2 with the Linux kit). I would like to
pursue this idea once RF is steadily on its feet; maybe you can try it first
at your library.

You may have noticed my use of the future tense in what I described; my
Board wants to hold off launch until we have Directors & Officers insurance.
Things should be ready to go by September. Until then, I am trying to
collect/create tutorials for how to use Squeak. In the near term, all Red
Figure/L'Engle Workshop projects will be exclusively online; the only way
for them to work is with thorough and accessible documentation. Which brings
me to...

> Alan Kay wrote:
> [snip]
> Currently, we think that most people need a fairly detailed guide
> about projects, the system, the significance, etc. There are
> interesting real-estate limitations and other distractions from
> today's screens that make creating a separate "good old paper" book
> about this to be a worthwhile project. We're in the process of doing
> this over the summer, and will start sharing drafts of several
> documents in a few months. In any case, we will also supply this
> material as active essays online.

I couldn't agree more; so much so that I am willing to volunteer my time to
help author/edit such materials. In fact, I proposed a similar project on
the Squeak-dev mailing list, see:

My proposal differs a bit in that it asks for an embedded help system/user
manual that gives basic information on what each Morph is and does and
directions on how to use it. I became acutely aware of this need for a user
manual when I tried and failed to carry out the directions for how to use a
storyboard morph (see

Your documentation, I gathered from an earlier conversation, is focused more
on teachers/parents/mentors, and aims to help them put Squeak in a learning
context. This work is absolutely essential to the missions of both of our
organizations, as well as the missions of most people on this mailing list.

At the same time, I believe that a user manual is of equal importance and,
in some ways, more fundamental than the documentation you propose. Unless a
help mechanism is embedded in the system, most new users of Squeak (outside
of the classroom) are unlikely to seek out help--whether printed or
online--and unlikely to continue using Squeak. Users, whether adult or
child, classroom- or home-schooled, need help where we are working and as we
are working.

I don't mean to set up a hierarchy of which project is more necessary, nor
do I mean to question your decisions. You have put years of work and thought
into this endeavor; I trust where you are taking haven't
disappointed me yet. I am simply trying to create a groundswell for a
project that I see as essential for attracting and keeping new and current
Squeak users, and, by extension, essential for the survival, spread, and
increasing relevance of Squeak.

As you have read in my postings, I am willing to do the bulk of the work in
editing/creating a user manual, but I feel that the project needs the
blessing or acknowledgement of Squeak Central if it is to be taken seriously
and if it is to be included in the standard and plugin versions of Squeak.
Please consider it.

In the meantime, people can contribute user manual entries here:

Username: authors
Password: koyaanisqatsi

> Alan Kay wrote:
> [snip]
> I think making materials that could be used by home schoolers to
> teach math, science, computing, etc., using Squeak is a very good
> next step for all. We are trying to create a (much smaller than
> open source list of home-schoolers who would be
> interested in helping make and package Squeak materials. Sounds like
> you might be the first of this list!

I am tired of typing; so, I will simply say that I would like to help
(possibly partner with) you on this. Can you give me some details?

Happy Fourth, both to those for whom it is a holiday and those for whom it
is a day,


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