Laptops designed by 7-year-olds

Rosecrans Baldwin of The Morning News writes,

You may have seen a link circulating a while ago about a group of 7-year-olds designing laptops (it was on a CNET blog post by Amy Tiemann). Well, I tracked them down, and now many permission slips later, we just published a gallery on TMN of what the future looks like in laptop design if 7-year-olds are to be believed. There's an interview with Ms. Tiemann about the club, as well as some interviews with the kids.


  1. It makes sense to me– when I was that age, my friends and I played something like two games and Paintbrush on their computer. If we’d had a button or something instead of putting in disks, we would have saved a lot of time. If your computer does only a few things, it makes sense to have shortcut buttons. It’s when your computer becomes a window to a branching tree of other stuff to do that you want a generalized input apparatus.

  2. It’s also interesting how several kids put a “10” key in with the numbers — sometimes instead of a zero key. It’s easy to forget how much “basic” math kids haven’t really picked up yet at that age.

  3. I have to wonder what Maddox would make of all this…

    But aside from that, this really reminds me of the Anti-Coloring books by Susan Striker that my parents let me loose on as a child. More fun than conventional colouring books, less fun than scribbling on the walls in crayon. Life is compromise.

  4. Don’t worry – if we’ve learned anything from BoingBoing, it’s that some artist out there will create real versions of these within a month.

  5. I noticed at least two laptops that had buttons that link to webkinz. Any parent of an 8-year-old knows that webkinz is the hottest Web site for that age group. I also noticed a link to a Barbie web site. Did anyone else notice any specific web links. I’m sure a lot of the “animal” keys are most likely intended to be links to lolcats or cuteoverload – other popular sites with that age group.

  6. I haven’t seen any laptops with hardware ‘google’ button, but I bet it won’t be long. Pretty clever ideas from some of them. It makes me wonder if buttons like ‘kitten’ are meant to produce a kitten or just a shortened way of typing.

  7. Dog, cat, kitten, puppy, leash, collar, food, shop, and especially “name pet”–this wasn’t designed by a 7-year-old, it was designed by a NetHack player.

  8. It’s really interesting to consider that computers completely rewire our brains to think more logically. Using a computer forces us to consider abstract ideas like hierarchies, and shortcuts. And really, their ideas aren’t too far off from what several companies try to do. A lot of keyboards have “hotkeys” for browsers and whatnot that seem like a good idea at surface value. However, pressing [CTRL+C] instead of a designated Copy button just seems more accessible. A bit like how a stenotype machines are chorded, rather than having a full keyboard.
    I can see this thought process when trying to teach my mother simple tasks on the computer. She needs things to be very straightforward. If she uses a program, she needs a shortcut on her desktop. On the other hand, I have desktop shortcuts disabled. To me, having a program under an array of directories just seems more logical.
    Eventually, all computers will just need three buttons: [1], [0], and [CTRL+ALT+DEL]

  9. I would have to say that we taught computers to think logically (think may be a bad word). The concepts of hierarchies, shortcuts (or perhaps pointers is better) were/are heavily used in how we process our environment. Maybe whats happening is the computer is simply allowing you to focus more on the concepts you’ve already been using.

  10. What’s interesting is that a 7-year-old understands the need for privacy: “Private code”, “code settings”, and also understands how important it is to really, really, really close an application with that gigantic “CLOSE” button!

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