[Self-interest] Self + Kids + iPad

David Harris dpharris at telus.net
Mon Nov 16 01:45:15 UTC 2020

That was a fun description.  Interesting how showing it to kids exposes its
complexities and areas of confusion/difficulties.  Definitely food for
thought on how to have an \obvious' UI.


On Sun, Nov 15, 2020 at 5:21 PM Russell Allen <mail at russell-allen.com>

> Hi guys,
> I was pottering on my OurSelf system over the weekend (improving the
> simple web management interface) when my 4 and 6 year olds rampaged up and
> demanded to be part of what I was doing.
> So I pulled up a Self world on the iPad (thought the Safari browser) and
> opened up the factory morph. The 6 yo got the idea pretty quickly, and
> started dragging little purple circles to the desktop and arranging them in
> patterns.
> When I realised he was trying to drag them all, we discussed how it was
> making a new copy of the circle each time and so there would never stop
> being more circles if he needed them.
> We also opened a radar morph, and moved around a bit. This wasn’t as
> intuitive, as the big jumps didn’t provide visual cues as to what was
> happening. It looked too much as if we were either moving to another ‘page’
> or (scarily) as if we were deleting all of our hard work in placing
> coloured circles, squares and rectangles.
> I think an ideal alternative would either show some visual indication of
> movement, not just a jump, or allow actual dragging of the desktop around.
> Having used iPads, both kids are really comfortable with dragging things on
> the screen with their fingers, and in fact keep on trying to drag things
> around on my computer monitor (even though they know it doesn’t work).  At
> the moment, dragging with the main mouse button down creates the lasso
> rectangle - I’m tempted to swap that to a second mouse button and make the
> dragging work to move your viewpoint instead.
> The iPad of course relies on a a single button ‘mouse’ (ie a finger) and
> gestures, which doesn’t really map perfectly to the Self expectation of a
> multi button mouse without gestures. This makes pop up menus difficult (you
> have to use a VNC menu to temporarily change the meaning of a ‘click’).
> Some obvious solutions which come to mind are either
> - create a MacOS style menubar, but this requires the elements on the
> screen to have a concept of being ‘selected’, and changes the GUI
> interaction to ‘select then choose action’
> - put lots of buttons everywhere to bring up context menus, but this
> requires, um, lots of buttons. This could look messy, and also would leave
> us with lots of small buttons. Even I have a bit of trouble clicking
> morphic buttons on the iPad, my kids really struggled which was frustrating
> for them.
> - create an action palette morph, a la Photoshop. The interaction then is
> ‘select the action (eg draw line, context menu open etc) then click on the
> element to apply it. This can work, but is maybe a bit modal.
> The other source of confusion is the way in which the iPad allows multiple
> fingers dragging at once. Two small fingers trying to drag different morphs
> simultaneously was interpreted by morphic as a single finger bouncing all
> over the screen.  Fixing this in morphic is conceptually possible I think,
> but would require complete replumbing of the event handling mechanism -
> ouch!
> We also wrote their names using labelMorphs, and dragged them around.
> Changing the text of the labelMorph required bringing up an outliner,
> sending a ‘label:’ message etc which was beyond them but the 6yo seemed to
> understand the ‘Get it’ and ‘Do it’ buttons as a concept, if not the syntax
> specifics of colons, single quotes etc.
> clockMorph worked, but needs some way to set the local time. Would be
> nicer if it was an analogue clock not just a text line.  The beep button
> unfortunately didn’t work - I will have to look into whether we can do
> sound over VNC somehow.
> Anyhow, it was fun,
> Cheers Russell
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