Being a part of the digital Aristotle

Digital Aristotle: Thoughts on the Future of Education!

CGP Grey has a video linked above that you should go watch. It explains the future of education and the direction that it’s already moving.

What I’m interested in is how Free Software and especially Ubuntu can be a part of that educational story. Currently the Ubuntu desktop is targeted towards desktop use, office productivity and social networking. While it’s true Edubuntu takes care of much of the thin client school deployment strategy; that’s not what the above video is pointing to.

Is being a college student or adult learner better on Ubuntu? The wikipedia lens would seem to suggest that we do have better integration at least of online services. But do we have better software? There’s nothing smart, yet, about the desktop that allows it to focus educational material or read-more type links towards individuals. We even struggle delivering help and guidance about the software itself directly to users, instead requiring a web browser to do these things.

But perhaps I’m getting way ahead of myself. Ubuntu could just be a simple job of delivering a web browser, with smarter and smarter servers. But somehow, a lot of this software is going to have to be on the desktop. And at this point we get to decide if that means turning the browser into a desktop and depreciating all our existing desktop APIs or building enough web enabled desktop extensions to our APIs. I just don’t know.

For now, I’m going to consider if any of the projects I’m involved with will play a part in this grander human project and how best the designs can align with that great story.

What are your thoughts?

3 thoughts on “Being a part of the digital Aristotle

  1. I have a whole train of thoughts ^^

    1. Most important is to free knowledge (license) -> digitize and distribute it.

    2. Rethink how knowledge is presented to humans. In the analog world you have always to make a compromise between where to focus and how much details you add to a text. But this is no longer necessary. Digital texts could have a lot of details and focus in different areas, when reading you could just choose where to focus and what to skip. Sometimes you would read the short version of the topic sometimes the long one or just watch a video.

    3. Only add relevant content to the learning material (don’t make it more complicated then necessary).

    4. Don’t be boring. Most of the stuff I read in school was written by and for people living in another reality ^^

    5. Don’t copy existent systems that where designed to solve another problem. Find a system for this problem -> a wiki may not be the right form, like stack overflow has its own system for answering questions, we need a system to teach knowledge.

    6. Be political & religious neutral. The objective of spreading knowledge is more important than to convincing another cultures that our values are the better once (this is the price such a project would have to pay if it would like to be a project for every one – accepting differences doesn’t mean you are okay with it – woman rights in some countries for example).

    7. Be as much independent as possible.

    8. Don’t depend on a system or file type. The data should be as independent as possible so that it can be easily transformed or re-added to a new system – that’s the difficult part.


    I stop here but I could write a book about this topic. My head is full of this stuff because I think about it since years.
    Another very important part is to think about the society changes such a system would bring.

  2. Thibaut – I feel that a system can be built to target a specific system so long as the data is self (and internally) consistent. That means, it is meaningful without any of the APIs it would be displayed through in it’s primary target system. The danger of saying that things should depend, is that it scares programmers from focusing on making new tools.

Comments are closed.