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]


michele said...

hey jake,
great post!
one thing i have a bit of contention with though is your mention of the 'more radical young people' who question the motives of those backing the project, especially in regards to cultural/techno centric imperialism.
while i agree with the sentiment that knowledge and skills will def result in enabling a different future, i think it's really smart and healthy to critique huge initiatives like this to at least try and ensure that mistakes of the past aren't repeated.

JakeJakob said...

I really appreciate dialogues with younger students and value their criticisms. I think those who support these kind of initiatives have the right motives but it's true that their zeal needs to be checked occasionally.

I'm sure the people who concocted the disastrous residential schools program for native children thought they were helping them.

Centros de Estetica said...

Interesting and really well written! Most blogs on the web are not that simple and good like this one.