1. I'm not proposing to _push_ any agenda on anyone.
Your agenda is apparently to involve kids somehow in either the production of software or things that go with the software (or as you say, give them this opportunity). Being broad-minded about this, you don't prescribe any kind of F/OSS at all. Nevertheless, it's still an agenda and has some influence.
But anyway, I think it's an important lesson to learn early. Not even "learn" as in "get to _my_ conclusion", but decide for yourself if that's what you want to do.
Yes, there are learning opportunities along the way. I don't place a low value on these. But I also am cautious to stress them or try to arrange these play sessions in such a way as to cause these outcomes. Again, you demonstrate a broad-minded attitude about it: "decide for yourself". Well and good. But the issues that you raise are fairly heady and I'd be surprised to observe any children paying them any attention until they have grown a bit more in age and experience.
I certainly don't propose to force anyone in any direction, much less any of the emotional stuff you write.
You're misrepresenting me now. I you have associated the word "agenda" with how people can tend to "push" or "force" agendas. I never used those words or claimed that's what you had in mind. Rather, I see people unconsciously guided by agendas in their interactions with children, and this spoils any value those interactions might have otherwise had.
As for the "emotional stuff" you vaguely and dismissively refer to, I assume you meant "experiencing the joy and frustration" with them? If you cannnot connect with them at least in some basic way, you have no hope of discovering the intrinsic value of sharing their play. Children often lack the ability to articulate exactly what precisely pleases or bothers them. It is often the non-verbal cues that tell us the most about how effective or ineffective software is for them. So on the one hand, being attuned to these emotional factors is necessary for the play session to work at all, and on the other, these same cues (on later reflection) feed back into the development process to make improvements.
I just propose to give them a chance to discover it for themselves, if they feel inclined their way.
And in this much of what you said, I agree.
2. I fail to see how crippling a tool makes it any better in any of the aspects you've mentioned.
This is over my head. Before Sandbox, we had no exposure to this kind of tool (except my 14 year-old son had some familiarity with Sauerbraten). I don't know any of the other software you mentioned. We came at it with virtually no preconceptions or expectations of superiority over any other tool. All we wanted to do was play and have fun with it. We did this and were delighted. A pleasant consequence of this was some valuable feedback into the software development process. I thought it was noteworthy to write about this.
My approach includes the possibility of coding, if anyone feels so inclined. Yours doesn't. Why is the latter better?
I am ... stunned. How did you read that into my response? I explicitly stated that it is a good thing if they *do* get interested in programming or modding. In no way do I exclude that possibility.
3. What on Earth does it have to do with involvement in Open Source, then, if there is no source involved, and no chance to see for themselves if they actually want to share theirs?
F/OSS has two sides: technical and social. Children can be involved in the social side long before they have a full appreciation of the technical side. Both sides are equally valuable. No code is written in a social vacuum. To dismiss non-coding activities around F/OSS as being unimportant while exalting contact with the source as being the only way to legtimize the activities as being "F/OSS related" is incredibly short-sighted.
If you're going to just use them as a focus group for some simple game, how's that any different from getting them in a focus group for the next closed-source Nintendo game?
If all you got out of my article was that I'm "using" my children as a "focus group" then you've entirely failed to understand the main thesis of the article, which is that engaging children both in play and communication with developers about that play is a natural and effective way to draw them into the F/LOSS community.
The whole sharing my world and all the fancy wording could apply verbatim to anything else. I could play WoW with them. (Hey, that's a part of _my_ world.) I could show them the meshes I made for a couple of simple Fallout 3 mods. Etc. None of those are F/OSS, but the exercise you describe could be identical.
I don't make any claims to F/OSS having a monopoly on life-reaffirming communities that may have value to get children involved in. I merely wrote about the community that matters to me, both as a developer with an interest in improving F/OSS for children, and as a parent wanting to share his world with his own kids. Yes! You can certainly apply the same approach to any walk of life. And if you do, more power to you.
Once you exclude the actual "Open" and "Source" even from the possibilities of that exercise, then the link to F/OSS becomes weak at best. (And trolling for page hits at worst.)
How does acknowledging that there may be other applications of this approach negate a link to F/OSS? The link is that I have *done* this in F/OSS communities and experienced success! It is perhaps a non-obvious way that kids *can* get involved because so much of the world is focused only on "educational outcomes" and not at all on this kind of interaction.
It's like saying I'm involving anyone in geology, because I took them for a ride in my car, and some geologists found the ore it was made of and the oil it runs on. The fact that geology or F/OSS were involved several steps back, doesn't make the exercise itself have anything to do with geology or F/OSS.
Oh, good grief. Read the whole article! At times, I have my kids directly talking with developers. At others, we just relay (with the kids' full knowledge of this) feedback to them and vice versa. The kids enjoyed being a part of this and the developers were equally happy. This is nothing at all like your analogy.