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

Pod p Yvol podp at xlterrestrials.org
Tue Jan 8 17:12:47 UTC 2008

Hi all,

I have been following silently... a bit too busy currently to respond with
all the perspectives, and not wanting to hastily enter, as i have been
gathering much material for an eventual article about OLPC ... as a
particularly revealing example of the "tech sector tsunami"... and just
couldn't synthesize so easily, but now i've been triggered...

in a way, while certainly well informed, geert's response is a bit typical
of those in the field...

steering clear of the heavy sociological/political critique...

formative angles which in many respects don't give a f*ck about "clashes
over design" because it analyzes more from the big picture of what it now
means for, say, the west to download its agenda, its operating systems,
and its languages thru consumer products and tech industries to regions
with vastly different circumstances and cultures and crises...

and it would be more interesting if tech adepts would actually attempt to
directly respond to these questions/critique/analysis, among them:

what do you really think giving a child in a slum, created in most cases
BY THE WEST's delusions of AID and PROGRESS ( and just a WEE bit of
centuries-long exploitation thrown in for vested-interest), the equivalent
of a Gameboy with slightly more potential for educational features??

Perhaps somebody from the IT world has directly entered this debate, and
i've missed it... i've only had time to scan a lot of the recent
replies... but generally it seems that this is avoided at all COST... as
such projects like OLPC have a lot INVESTED in proceeding with a

I have begun to compile some of my own tweaks to the game, because this
mega-plan seems in one way or another already in motion, and is already
ripe for hacking (to save us from the original conceptual flaws?), but
will include them in a more researched article.


By the way, recently i came across Steve Talbott's "Devices of The Soul:
Batting For Our Selves in the Age of Machines " ( O'Reilly) which is an
intriguing and articulate deconstruction of the "quantitative" and
"reductionist" directions that western society is pursuing at a
catastrophic pace.

Might sound a bit technophobic and ... god-forbid spiritual ; ) at first
glance, but in fact, before he started working for the Nature Institute
developing his theories for a "Qualitative Science", he was a programmer.


And since everyone has also avoided the whole family relations tamale at
this point i think it is necessary to put this up for high-speed
observational adjustment:

Are Nicholas and John Negroponte the right and left fists of the new
cultural imperialism and technocratic colonialism ?? ... as in Thomas
Friedman's fist(s) of democracy that Arundhati Roy so brilliantly dragged
out into the open for public re-assessment ??



And in any case, thank you all for the threads and links, it's all highly



arts + praxis organisms

 > Dear all,
> it's been an interesting OLPC thread so far.
> I have been following the http://www/olpcnews.com site on a daily basis
> since a long time and I have to say that the OLPC project is unique in
> that draws the (radical) critique of ICTs deep inside a technology
> management venture. This rarely happens, at least as visible as it is
> in this case. There have been so many interesting clashes over its
> design, the electricity and power supply question, the keyboard and
> screen, the software and OS (obvious) and indeed, the edu content.
> Controversies are always invisible and the PR-New Age strategies of
> most US-American IT firms, with their happy CEO guru cult, is most
> effective in keep debate away from the development stage, thereby
> downgrading criticism to the level of consumer-user-end luser level.
> Since 2001 I have been involved in setting up lists and debates and
> even a conference of critical ICT for developments researchers and
> activists. If you are interested, please have a look at
> http://www.incommunicado.info
> I have copy-pasted a great posting of Steve Cisler to the Incommunicado
> list below. It is great to see that OLPC is now being discussed so
> widely, also outside of the ICT for Development community.
> However, for those who have been around a bit longer, a lot that we
> hear, in particular in the mainstream media, is a repeat of earlier
> debates.
> It is for instance good to remind ourselves of the earlier, much
> smaller attempt with the Indian Simputer, to design a cheap computer
> for educational purposes that would run on floss and would be outside
> of the control of Microsoft.
> Greetings from Amsterdam.
> Geert
> ---
>         From: sacisler at yahoo.com
> 	Subject: 	<incom> XO thoughts
> 	Date: 	7 January 2008 8:47:15 PM
> 	To: 	  incom-l at incommunicado.info
> People in US and Canada who wanted an XO  were offered the give one get
> one program in November and December of last year. For about $400 the
> donor received an XO and one was sent to a school in countries such as
> Haiti, Cambodia, Rwanda, and Afghanistan. Through this program 167,000
> machines were sold, with half going to donors.
> I got one in mid-December. The Economist has a very negative review
> about the machine, but I am quite impressed with all they have stuffed
> into a 1+ Kg device costing less than $200. The keyboard is about right
> for an 8 year old, so I can't touch type. You can attach a USB keyboard
> as well as a mouse. The trackpad has some bugs which everyone
> assumes/hopes will be fixed in a short time.
> I am most interested in the XO as an e-book reader. I was able to
> connect to both open and secure wifi networks without too much trouble.
>   I downloaded a 2.7 Mb UNCTAD report on least developed countries and
> was able to read it after adjusting the size of the pdf image. The XO
> screen can be rotated 90 degrees to be read in a flat mode, but you
> lose some of the width you have when reading it in the normal screen
> mode.  I did a short video on the Internet Archive which has put some
> of their scanned children's books on the XO, but there is no large
> library of these for the XO. I hope it will be developed country by
> country. One of the most important features is that in black/white
> screen mode you can read the text in sunlight. That's a real
> breakthrough.
> Bundled with the XO are many applications including several for playing
> and editing music. I need better documentation and that seems to be in
> development. There are programming tools, games, paint programs, write,
> and camera and mike for taking pictures and making short video clips.
> Because I am not near any other XO at this time, I have not tried any
> kind of networking.  In Yahoo mail I was not able to attach any file
> and mail it. Nor did the RSS reader work. According to the olpcnews.com
> forums only one other person has had any luck with the RSS reader. So
> there is quite a lot to correct and fill out.
> I won't comment on the Intel-OLPC soap opera except to say that last
> year I did play with the Classmate. It will probably work okay in those
> schools where they have a regular supply of electricity. The price is
> higher, and it's being sold in a different way. It fits into the
> education bureaucracies more easily than the radical XO. I think people
> are reluctant to try something that different and they see the
> Classmate as a cheap Wintel machine for school kids--not too disruptive
> and no disruptive talk about constructivism.
> Steve Cisler
> Center for Science, Technology, and Society
> Santa Clara University
> http://scu.edu/sts/
> _______________________________________________
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> incom-l at incommunicado.info
> http://mail.kein.org/mailman/listinfo/incom-l
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