[iDC] One Laptop Per Child - MIT/Negroponte Initiative

Sam Ladner samladner at gmail.com
Wed Jan 2 18:42:06 UTC 2008

Steve makes an important point: criticisms of  the status quo will not
change the status quo. For all my criticisms of OLPC, I am keen to see
something done in the direction of (technological) literacy for all.

I am so hesitant to endorse fully this project because of what evidence
tells us of technological change -- it amplifies existing inequalities. This
is particularly true for gender, but also for other forms of discrimination.

Just because the Interweb is the biggest thing EVER doesn't mean that we
should adopt or endorse this project wholesale. Bringing the power of these
amazing tubes to developing countries could ignite sparks of equality, but
let us not be deceived -- it will not change existing social relations that
privilege few above the many.

That is my only point. When discourses of technological utopianism dominate,
they create a mythology of meritocracy (which, incidentally, so did
Carnegie). Myths are powerful tools to maintain oppression, not subvert it.
I am not criticizing OLPC per se, but the powerful utopianism embedded in
discussions around it.

Steve, you're right. It's an audacious project and we should all get behind
the spirit of that. However, we should not be blinded either. OLPC will not
"change the world," but may change pieces of the world.
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