Saturday, January 19, 2008
I ordered my OLPC laptop a few seconds after they opened up the order page in November. I only received it a few days ago despite their promise to try and deliver before the holidays. It's an ambitious effort to get computers into the hands of the poorest children in the world and they're off to a decent start.
I've been testing it and am impressed so far. It's a lot smaller and lighter than my 12" Apple PowerBook and has a more powerful WiFi receiver. In my local Starbucks here at the edge of High Park where I do some writing I normally can't pick up any open router transmissions but with the XO laptop I can see a few available signals. The browser is a little slow compared to the PowerBook and seems to have trouble with Flash video but otherwise is quite robust.
When we featured it at the last Juice Dialogues by bringing in a representative with a working model we had a very positive response from the participants although I was surprised to hear from some of the more radical young people that it was perhaps just another example of our cultural imperialism imposing our techno centric and even logo centric culture on more traditional and probably richer oral cultures. Even though that interpretation may factually be true I'm not sure what the alternative is supposed to be. Unfortunately the game is rigged and one needs to be able to read, write and electronically communicate in order to escape poverty in our world and this is an elegant way to give some children the opportunity to develop these skills.
If you'd like one you can pay a total of $400 for two laptops. You will be sent one and automatically donate one to some deserving child in a developing setting. Every time I open it up in public people inevitably ask about it and this is really the reason I got it. It is a way to spread the word. I encourage you to buy one, donate, or just talk it up.
[Update: The first wave of the Buy 2 Get 1 program seems to be over for now]