Tags:


Laptops, by 8-year-olds.
November 19, 2007 12:35 PM   Subscribe

Imaginary laptops, as designed by 8-year-olds. I'd suggest printing them out so you can try them at home. The designs lack dotted lines to fold across, but I'm sure you can figure it out. Scroll down for the interview, which is as charming as the pictures.
posted by nobody (70 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
I wish my laptop had a "math botton."
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 12:38 PM on November 19, 2007


This is great. I want a "14" key.
posted by GuyZero at 12:42 PM on November 19, 2007


Ha! I wonder what hitting the kitten button does...
posted by spiderskull at 12:45 PM on November 19, 2007


This is awesome. My 8-year-old is desperate for her own Macbook Pro, and has taken to creating her own out of paper (she colors one side grey with a white apple for the logo). Her keyboards have buttons that say "secrets," "[her brother's] secrets," and "you tube." She also has a couple of paper cell phones.
posted by mothershock at 12:45 PM on November 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


There are pretty cool. MeFi needs more specheil feters.

"Nun lock" sounds a bit kinky.
posted by rokusan at 12:48 PM on November 19, 2007


I don't know, spiderskull, but I bet pressing it at the same time as the Hamster button would get a little messy.
posted by daniel striped tiger at 12:53 PM on November 19, 2007


The interview was good--it was interesting to see how they read into the designs to determine how the kids felt about computers in general.

Wonder what this would have looked like 10 years ago, or 10 years from now.
posted by DMan at 12:55 PM on November 19, 2007


I like the laptop with the "maid", "chef" and "babysitter" buttons in close proximity.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:57 PM on November 19, 2007


Ctrl+Alt+Kitten
posted by tepidmonkey at 12:58 PM on November 19, 2007 [13 favorites]


Is it wrong that I'm scared at how well some of these children know the QWERTY layout? Did they reference a real keyboard, or do they know by heart what I learned by wrote at an age much later?
posted by jamuraa at 1:00 PM on November 19, 2007


Ctrl+Alt+Kitten --tepidmonkey
posted by Bugg at 1:09 PM on November 19, 2007


Seeing as I still can't accurately reproduce the entire keyboard without a reference (or maybe imagining myself typing the alphabet?), I'd guess they were looking at a real keyboard.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:10 PM on November 19, 2007


This one looks fun. Three game buttons: "game," "werd games" and "rily werd games." :)
posted by amyms at 1:11 PM on November 19, 2007


I am better than your kids.
posted by ericb at 1:14 PM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Forget qwerty. Forget all of the special purpose buttons (which are so cute... I mean who wouldn't want a "kitten" button. Awesome!). What has my mind reeling is that many of the keyboards have a simple alphabetical progression, followed by major functions keys (space, enter, etc...) THEN followed by numbers. I've just come to accept the standard layout that I'm practically blind to anything else - that was neat to see.
posted by C.Batt at 1:14 PM on November 19, 2007


I like the kid who can correctly spell "shop", "buy", "charge", and "order", but can't spell "homework".
posted by DrGirlfriend at 1:16 PM on November 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


[ After being told this interview would be published on the internet ] “I’m going to be popular! I should make a blog button, right now.”

Sounds like we're in for another long September...
posted by Bugg at 1:19 PM on November 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


I love some of those keyboards. Interface designers should seriously take note. What these kids are imagining today, they will create in 15 years.

The 'Friends' button in particular, is one I like.
posted by empath at 1:24 PM on November 19, 2007


Maddox would not approve.

Meanwhile, I would pay $20 to see Steve Jobs personally review the laptop ideas.
posted by mullingitover at 1:25 PM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


On a middle-of-the night trip to the hospital a couple of weeks ago, the staff gave my 9 year-old a pack containing Disney keyboard stickers. I gave her an old keyboard and she carefully cleaned it off and stuck all the stickers on the correct keys. She then cleaned off her desk (bonus!) and now has her own imaginary computer. Yesterday she would rattle away on the keys for a while, then it would go quiet for a minute or two before she brought in the hand-written 'email' that she had been typing. She has a cardboard box that she's going to carve into a LCD monitor and various other things.

Like amyms, I also really like the one with "game," "werd games" and "rily werd games."
posted by valleys at 1:31 PM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's almost far too clever a pun to be an accident.
posted by empath at 1:34 PM on November 19, 2007


It seems to me that these kids want their computers to function like appliances. Want to see what your friends are up to? Just punch the "freinds" key. Games? No problem. Hell, there's even a key for "Barbie.com." Barbie dot fucking com.

I have seriously mixed emotions about this. Part of me thinks, "tap-dancing Christ, these kids are idiots, all they're interested in is buying shit." But I also think, "well, computers are tools, they should do what people want them to do." I don't know what to think, really.

It would be pretty rad to have a "Love" key, though. The question is, does it retrieve love, or send it?
posted by uncleozzy at 1:41 PM on November 19, 2007


You know what this means right?

Paper malware!

Impossible origami that crashes your machine or, worse, termites.
posted by CheeseburgerBrown at 1:53 PM on November 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


Uncleozzy: absent these appliance-like keys, the kids would be illustrating bog-standard qwerty layouts with instructions on use, right? I mean, if there's not a button for barbie.com, then you're left with typing http://www.barbie.com or mousing to a bookmark (which is, in effect, a purpose-built button).

Oh, and the love key is full duplex, no local echo.
posted by mumkin at 1:55 PM on November 19, 2007


Want to see what your friends are up to? Just punch the "freinds" key. Games? No problem.

[…]

I have seriously mixed emotions about this. Part of me thinks, "tap-dancing Christ, these kids are idiots, all they're interested in is buying shit."


They want to buy... seeing what their friends are up to?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:56 PM on November 19, 2007


It would be pretty rad to have a "Love" key, though. The question is, does it retrieve love, or send it?

See, I'd find that infinitely depressing. At 8, they'd already think that love comes and goes through their computer.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 1:56 PM on November 19, 2007


DrGirlfriend writes "See, I'd find that infinitely depressing. At 8, they'd already think that love comes and goes through their computer."

You mean it comes from somewhere else?
posted by mullingitover at 2:02 PM on November 19, 2007


They want to buy... seeing what their friends are up to?

This is what happens when you type four versions of a comment when you're ostensibly working. You're right, of course, but I think the real reason I bristle at some of the macro keys is the sense that there is only one service that provides such things.

Something about the way kids are using computers today bothers me, and I can't articulate just why. Maybe I'm just a crotchety old (in internet years) man. You kids get off my eLawn (or is it iLawn? do you maintain it with a mowr™?).
posted by uncleozzy at 2:06 PM on November 19, 2007


Nobody noticed the "name pet" key on the first one. That, combined with a "should I dump him/her" key, would put a serious dent in AskMetafilter.
posted by marxchivist at 2:07 PM on November 19, 2007 [8 favorites]


You mean it comes from somewhere else?
posted by mullingitover at 2:02 PM on November 19 [+] [!]

Oh, well, I wasn't counting Kraftwerk, ferpetessake.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 2:09 PM on November 19, 2007


Oh, well, I wasn't counting Kraftwerk, ferpetessake.

They totally ripped off Coldplay anyway.
posted by uncleozzy at 2:13 PM on November 19, 2007


So cute, so awesome. Thanks, nobody!
posted by sveskemus at 2:14 PM on November 19, 2007


Is it wrong that I'm scared at how well some of these children know the QWERTY layout? Did they reference a real keyboard, or do they know by heart what I learned by wrote at an age much later?

I just realized that, though I'm a very good touch typist, I have no idea what the layout of the keys looks like exactly, and I surely couldn't reproduce the keyboard layout in a drawing without looking at one. Psychologists! Do a study and figure out what's up with that! Thanks!
posted by Kwine at 2:17 PM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: I’m going to be popular! I should make a blog button, right now.
posted by pompomtom at 2:22 PM on November 19, 2007


Dear jerkfaces:

We are aware that Maddox once wrote a funny thing where he mocked kids' drawings. You can stop linking it several times in any thread that involves drawings by kids.

Thanks and <3,
Everybody who is sick of that.

posted by cortex at 2:51 PM on November 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


I like the 8-year old who has a button for "firewall" and an item on the screen called "Security". That probably tells us a lot about her parents' computer/internet savvy.
posted by gemmy at 2:51 PM on November 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


But, regardless: this is pretty great.
posted by cortex at 2:51 PM on November 19, 2007


*wants a hamster button*
posted by brundlefly at 2:51 PM on November 19, 2007


I like the 8-year old who has a button for "firewall" and an item on the screen called "Security". That probably tells us a lot about her parents' computer/internet savvy.

That one is awesome. it has "frogluky", "bird love bird", "cookie", & "Hores" keys.

C'mon, who hasn't thought of blowing their savings on cookie and hores?
posted by juv3nal at 2:54 PM on November 19, 2007 [7 favorites]


I like the one that's pretty straightforward except for the giant GAME button right between Enter and Space.
posted by easternblot at 2:55 PM on November 19, 2007


You know, it may be awhile before I have time to build it but I've been assembling the bits for the laptop I'd like that nobody is building. It will be the size of a full-size laptop keyboard, which I salvaged from a dead 286 laptop. The screen will be a standard 240x128 one bit color depth LCD. The backlight will be optional and adjustable. It will be powered by an embedded 186 class DOS-based microcontroller that can be idled to near zero power usage when it's waiting for a keypress. It will save files to a standard SD card which is shared with a standard USB SD reader for getting data in and out of it. And it will run for at least 80 hours straight on eight AA batteries.
posted by localroger at 3:16 PM on November 19, 2007


Meanwile at the senior laptop club all designs feature a keyboard with only one key...

[Cancel Google]
posted by billyfleetwood at 3:17 PM on November 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


Something about the way kids are using computers today bothers me, and I can't articulate just why.

Computers SHOULD BE appliances. You shouldn't have to understand all the crap about how a computer works unless you're a programmer or hardware engineer. I suspect this bothers you because you had to waste your time learning about all that (essentially useless) crap.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:03 PM on November 19, 2007


me & my monkey -- you can treat a computer like an appliance just like you can treat a car that way. There are a lot of parallels between computers and cars. They're both enormously complicated, a lot of engineering goes into them, and there are a lot of things that can go wrong. You can, like some people, treat your car as if the hood is welded shut and hope for the best. But you can also make it a bit of a hobby, learn how it works, and save yourself a lot of heartache and money by solving your own problems and preventing others. I think it's silly not to have some idea how the technology that's critical to your way of life works, and it's disturbing to me that all technology -- cars and computers and even toasters included -- seems to be peeling off in a direction that makes it impossible to relate except as wish-dispensing black boxes that we have to discard and replace when they disappoint us for reasons we will never understand.
posted by localroger at 4:15 PM on November 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


I was about to respond to me & my monkey, but I think localroger summed it up nicely. Nobody's saying you have to hack hardware or software, but it's helpful to know how things work. Otherwise we wind up with "Bill Gates will give you $100 to forward this email" and "here is a naked picture of Angelina Jolie.jpg.exe" and "please visit http://www.paypal.com@password.reset/ to reset your password," which endangers (or at least inconveniences) everyone on the internet, just as failing to understand that worn tires and brakes need to be replaced endangers other drivers.

Of course, these kids are just having some fun. We'll see what happens when they're a little older.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:30 PM on November 19, 2007


(Add a ".ru" in that last comment someplace. It's up to you where; doesn't matter much to me.)
posted by uncleozzy at 4:31 PM on November 19, 2007


Metafilter: Well you see, if we had whole days to work on it, and bigger paper, I think we could make it way more detailed.
posted by scalefree at 4:33 PM on November 19, 2007


... you can also make it a bit of a hobby ...

That shouldn't be a requirement for its use. To the extent that it isn't, it's a failure of the technology.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:34 PM on November 19, 2007


Well me & my monkey, I think you overestimate what technology can and is supposed to do -- unless you think any technology short of this one is inadequate. Technology is just stuff we create to grease our interaction with the ever so balksome natural world. It's never perfect, never has been, and if it ever is I promise the result will be much weirder than you expect.

Ironically, my wife has pretty much your attitude, and part of our relationship is that I take responsibility for that dealing with technology thing. (On the flip side, she deals with a lot of domestic shit that would drive me batty.) But it always amazes me when she asks me why X happened and as I prepare to show her how to deal with it, she walks away, obviously distracted and uninterested, despite the fact that 60 seconds of concentration could save her hours of frustration in an inevitable future.

The day the computer really can fix itself is not necessarily a joyous one. It might be Skynet instead of Prime Intellect.
posted by localroger at 4:44 PM on November 19, 2007


Press button
Receive kitten
posted by kosher_jenny at 4:49 PM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


I want a "design pet" button. The happy and unhappy faces on that one are actually pretty clever, too. Transparently obvious synonyms for "OK" and "Cancel".
posted by wanderingmind at 5:14 PM on November 19, 2007


who wouldn't want a "kitten" button

I'm sure a high percentage of MeFites have a lolcat button though.
posted by The Deej at 5:33 PM on November 19, 2007


The day the computer really can fix itself is not necessarily a joyous one. It might be Skynet instead of Prime Intellect.
posted by localroger


Well you're pretty much the expert on that :)
posted by blasdelf at 6:03 PM on November 19, 2007


blasdelf -- wow, I'm an expert? Who said that? Certainly not, say, the IEEE oh wait a minute...
posted by localroger at 6:34 PM on November 19, 2007


You know, it may be awhile before I have time to build it but I've been assembling the bits for the laptop I'd like that nobody is building. It will be the size of a full-size laptop keyboard, which I salvaged from a dead 286 laptop. The screen will be a standard 240x128 one bit color depth LCD. The backlight will be optional and adjustable. It will be powered by an embedded 186 class DOS-based microcontroller that can be idled to near zero power usage when it's waiting for a keypress. It will save files to a standard SD card which is shared with a standard USB SD reader for getting data in and out of it. And it will run for at least 80 hours straight on eight AA batteries.

But will it have a "kitten" button?
posted by nax at 6:42 PM on November 19, 2007


I think you overestimate what technology can and is supposed to do

Not at all. General-purpose computers are quite primitive right now, that's all. I think you underestimate what progress will bring.

For most tasks that people do with computers, they're far more complicated than they have to be. This is largely a matter of deficient user interfaces.

The day the computer really can fix itself

That has nothing to do with what I'm talking about. Do you really think an end-user should need to know about, say, filesystem permissions to install software?

Nobody's saying you have to hack hardware or software, but it's helpful to know how things work. Otherwise we wind up with "Bill Gates will give you $100 to forward this email" and "here is a naked picture of Angelina Jolie.jpg.exe" and "please visit http://www.paypal.com@password.reset/ to reset your password," which endangers (or at least inconveniences) everyone on the internet, just as failing to understand that worn tires and brakes need to be replaced endangers other drivers.

This is a great example of what I mean, I think. You don't need to know about SMTP, ActiveX and browser vulnerabilities to deal with this problem. The fact that these problems exist in the first place (spam, users running as administrators, etc) are deficiencies in the systems that we've designed. The answer to these problems isn't to train everyone how to use the deficient systems, it's to fix the deficiencies in those systems.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:47 PM on November 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


Some of them seem to be quite smart. I like the one with the iTunes, iPhone, and Firewall buttons, but I actually had to look up what the "WebKinz" button was about. Damn, I should not be having "I feel old" moments at age 20.
posted by kiltedtaco at 7:11 PM on November 19, 2007


Ha! I wonder what hitting the kitten button does...

I don't know, spiderskull, but I bet pressing it at the same time as the Hamster button would get a little messy.

Not necessarily
posted by teg at 7:53 PM on November 19, 2007


I used to love making these when I was a kid! For some reason I had a fascination with making paper laptops, handheld games, and spaceship consoles. I also used to love drawing the insides of imaginary plane/spaceship cockpits. Brings back good memories. Thanks for the post!
posted by pravit at 8:51 PM on November 19, 2007


Computers SHOULD BE appliances. You shouldn't have to understand all the crap about how a computer works unless you're a programmer or hardware engineer. I suspect this bothers you because you had to waste your time learning about all that (essentially useless) crap.

That fight is long from over. I know there are many people who think that computing (and I'm just talking using, not programming) is too complicated and don't care much about customizability, but for many others, they want more and more. For them, most software already chooses too many things for you. And while I've already started seeing "appliance" type one-function keys on keyboards, I think the gradual increase in computer savvy-ness is going to see more and more people wanting fewer and fewer choices made for them. Even my dad, bless him, turned to me one day and asked, frustrated, "Why can't I get my computer to do it this way -- it's a computer!" and I had to explain to him that someone thought it was a good idea to restrict this particular choice because most people wouldn't care and it would be easier overall. Here is my 75 year old father wanting more out of Windows.
posted by dreamsign at 9:26 PM on November 19, 2007


(and these are great, btw. nice post!)
posted by dreamsign at 9:27 PM on November 19, 2007


General-purpose computers are quite primitive right now, that's all. I think you underestimate what progress will bring.
I read recently that the average home in UK contains almost a trillion transistors. Of course, we have no idea where many of them are, and in the same way I suspect that we'll be unaware of most of the computers in our lives. Where do we place the boundary between 'washing machine control system' and 'computer'?
posted by No Mutant Enemy at 12:30 AM on November 20, 2007


Ahhhhh, the drawings, functions, and collection as a whole really fascinate and touch me. Little kids' minds are neat. The addition of special function buttons has really irritated me while shopping for the inevitable replacement to my MS Natural keyboard. I wonder when MS will roll out the 'boards with puppy/kitten/cat/dog, etc? Not so sure 'bout a "private code" key, though.

Like pravit, I "made" my own electronics. The most memorable for me are a cardboard Apple ][ and a space shuttle console. On the hour-long school bus ride I piloted for NASA! Alas, the custom cardboard gadgets were put away once I spent my savings upon a Commodore 64.

**wipes tear from eye**
posted by bonobo at 12:45 AM on November 20, 2007


Am I the only one here who did similar things 20 years ago? Except not with laptops.
posted by grouse at 5:05 AM on November 20, 2007


Am I the only one here who did similar things 20 years ago? Except not with laptops.

Totally, except more like 30-35 years. Mine looked a lot like WOPR, with a RADAR display & satellite dish hanging off it & a missile launcher too. Couple years later the Apple ][ & TRS-80 came out & made my dreams a reality. Well, minus the missiles.
posted by scalefree at 7:53 AM on November 20, 2007


I used to draw video games. I'd lay out some crazy Blaster Master-esque action tank platformer on ruled notebook paper, with all kinds of spikes and projectiles and the tank captured in five or six progressive positions of that "screen" of the "level". I wish I still had that stuff—I can remember it pretty vividly, but I'd love to see my eight-year-old drawings again.
posted by cortex at 8:26 AM on November 20, 2007


I know there are many people who think that computing (and I'm just talking using, not programming) is too complicated and don't care much about customizability, but for many others, they want more and more.

I don't think that improving usability necessarily requires reducing customizability. It may involve hiding customization options during regular use, I suppose.

Here is my 75 year old father wanting more out of Windows.

Who doesn't?
posted by me & my monkey at 9:16 AM on November 20, 2007


Cortex, that's pretty much how actual video game designs start out.
posted by Durhey at 4:40 PM on November 20, 2007


cortex writes "Dear jerkfaces:

"We are aware that Maddox once wrote a funny thing where he mocked kids' drawings. You can stop linking it several times in any thread that involves drawings by kids.

"Thanks and <3,
"Everybody who is sick of that."


Dear Everybody who is sick of that:

Sorry, I've never seen that linked here before. Also, I guess I spent too much time composing and failed to preview, and thus missed it when ericb beat me to the punch. I am mortified and ashamed. If I could take it all back, I would.

Thanks and <3 back atcha,
Someone who spends far too much time on MeFi, but apparently still not enough time to be on a first-name basis with the legion of dead horses.

sent from my paper laptop
posted by mullingitover at 5:18 PM on November 20, 2007


Dear mullingitover:

You're a mensch. I take it all back. Don't ever change, baby.

<3 & xoxoxo,
moi
posted by cortex at 5:31 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


« Older In the same spirit as the Open Net Initiative and ...  |  I Am the Very Model of a Psych... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments