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January 29, 2006

Good and Bad Design 2

Legos and Lego Mindstorms

It seems to me that Lego was the first classic toy that successfully made the jump into the 21st century through the development of Lego Mindstorms. It is true that the online world has begun to take up a lot more time and kids are spending less time playing with traditional toys. Although i am obviously not a luddite in that I really like technology, I also know that there are lots of GOOD things about some classic toys - Lego being one of them.

Legos are great manipulatives and there are definite sorts of basic engineering lessons that can be learned from playing with legos: torque, gear ratios, conservation of energy, etc. etc. etc.

Mindstorms takes Legos and creates a whole new toy with them - self-designed and self-programmed robots.

And Legos are the almost perfect toy to do this with -
1) people invest in legos because they are modular and they are always backwards compatible
2) people can be successful with legos at any stage
3) the lego plastic is very durable and the bricks fit so well together
4) mindstorms has a visual programming enivronment that is being improved int he next version
5) lego has a very thoughtful, quality-drive development process that insures longterm sustainability of the product so that people invest
6) the limits to the toy having been greatly expanded as the need for smart toys has become greater
7) legos are good for kids and adults alike - sort of neutral playing field

January 18, 2006

Good and Bad Design

Like I mentioned last night in class I think that iTunes is a great podcast aggregrator for people wanting to put podcasts on their iPods.

Positives: the music store interface makes the whole podcast world seem really commerical, fun, accessible, hip. A lot of people have sort of crossed their eyes at me when I have encouraged them to listen to such-and-such podcast as they are not on iTunes and podcasts are just too weird. But when I can sit down with them and show them things work so smoothly and they seem to really find the interface to be okay.

Very easy to navigate

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The little pieces of "album art" for the podcasts are just great