OLPC struggles to realize ambitious vision – washingtonpost.com

December 21, 2007

This is a great little article on OLPC: OLPC struggles to realize ambitious vision – washingtonpost.com. It highlights what I’ve always thought was a flaw in the program: organizing the project through governments. I know there are many people working with governments who have vision and insight, JuliaD comes to mind, but in general the institution of government is beset by LCD mentalities (lowest common denominator). In Ontario we used to have the Unisys Icon computer
(Unisys ICON – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia); a technology that kept me out of educational computing until it died and went away. The article notes how windows/intel is selling when OLPC is not. And why? Some references note that teaching people with windows will help them enter the workforce faster… no doubt getting them into service positions that will soon marginalize them. The old adage to give someone a fish and you feed them for a day, teach someone to fish and you feed them for life fits with information technology. Teach someone to use a program and you forever enslave them to a system. Teach someone to program and you free them to create new worlds. I think OLPC scares governments because they’re profoundly ignorant of technology. I think OLPC excites people who are not ignorant of technology because they can see the potential to disrupt a hegemonic system of control over information and technology. There’s no question, I do not think that the OLPC is perfect. I’m no evangelist. OLPC smacks of MIT hubris, and I don’t mind them getting smacked down because of it. I will take MIT’s hubris over Microsoft/Intel’s any day (though I’d take either of their support or funding for my projects, to be honest).

JuliaD and I (and others) talked about zero cost computing for a number of years, and it is still a goal: create a computer that can be dropped from an airplane (delivering more crucial aid such as water purification tools and shelter), frozen, left in the sun, rained on, etc. Ensure that it will function in someone’s own first language, even if they are not literate in that language. And it should cost nothing, relatively speaking.

It is a goal. OLPC is a step in the right direction. The other alternatives I’ve seen are a step backwards. That’s about all I have to say about it.

2 Responses to “OLPC struggles to realize ambitious vision – washingtonpost.com”

  1. I wuv you Jasonji.

  2. I agree with most of what you say but… do you really think very many people want to program? I don’t, although perhaps I’m using a narrow definition of programming.

    Teaching someone to use a word processor or graphics program can allow people to create new worlds (yes I know, you don’t even need a computer for the former…)