The Principles and Child Empowerment of the One Laptop Per Child program and the Laptop’s design for learning.
With much lower fan fare OLPC has released it’s latest attempt to bring a educational computer to the world’s children. The OLPC project has had a series of hits and misses. The initial release known as the XO-1 was received as a minor success. The expectations could not be higher — bring advanced computing to the world’s poorest students.
OLPC received much attention since its launch with the UN, but the release of the XO-2 was scene as a break through that never materialized. With tough economic conditions and globalized part manufacturing I’m not sure OLPC will be able to ship a tablet device by 2012 but boy I would sure want them to succeed.
The one real miss was the Sugar OS. Sugar was designed for children yet due to the marketplace and influence of Microsoft, OLPC has adopted Windows as a supported OS. I will never be convinced that children need to learn Microsoft Windows in order to use a child-friendly learning device.
No sooner did we expect to see prototypes when Nicholas Negroponte announced the XO-2 was being killed for a OLPC XO 1.75:
It will be interesting to see the development of the next OLPC XO 3.0 unit, but overall many were looking forward to the 2.0 release.
Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University wrote The Future of the Internet–And How to Stop It. This book is very interesting for all the wrong reasons. Zittrain documents that existing, closed, controlled systems are damaging the internet an if continued, he writes will negatively impact our future access and interaction. I enjoyed reading the book and dedicated blog established by Zittrain to keep his conversations moving forward.
BTW: The cover is not an actual photo rather a Photoshop’d image. However the image clearly represents his message. The book is about Generativity impacting the internet. Ultimately his argument is to place generativity at the core of all open technologies that tap into the internet.
Zittrain begins Part I in the book with a tbit of historical reflection: The Battle of the Boxes, Battle of the Networks and CyberSecurity. He followed on the impact of legal lessons learned from Wikipedia. There are plenty of examples how open, generativity systems make the internet better. Here are a couple of examples Zittrain addressed that do not:
Law enforcement agencies have used network devices to manually turn on OnStar (the in-vehicle security, communications, and diagnostics system from GM) to record and monitor conversations of unknowing passengers. OnStar is installed in over 50 models of GM cars alone.
The FBI requested from a judge the ability to turn on the microphone of a unsuspecting cell phone owner allowing law enforcement to tap, track and record conversations.
Think about that for a moment. Ever take a picture with your digital camera or cell phone? Millions of people do this everyday and upload content to photo-sharing websites like Flickr. Can you imagine taking a series of photographs — only to later realize the camera (via remote commands) copied all your photos without your knowledge. Zittrain addresses how your personal content can be affected by a judge in Texas while you live … say in Ohio. Don’t believe it? Read Chapter 5: Tethered Appliances, Software as Service and Perfect Enforcement” to see how a judge in Marshall Texas did just that — regarding a copyright case involving TiVo.
Get a laptop and give one to a child in a developing nation
Cannot help but wonder what American school children (Grades K-6) could accomplish with One Laptop per Child XO Laptop. Dare I say the ‘competition’ for XOs in America this holiday season are gaming systems? Actually the Give a Laptop, Get a Laptop Program isn’t really all that expensive in comparison with the top gaming systems:
The 2008 holiday Give One Get One program for OLPC is now in full swing. Please consider donating a unit to a child in need. A new print on-demand manual is now available. Looks like the Amazon links are not functional yet, so check out the details at Laptop.org and see how you can change the world one person at a time.
As reported by the BBC and others, Amazon has announced it will begin selling OLPC’s XO unit this fall. The new unit will support dual boot to SugarOS or WindowsXP. OLPC’s first GiveOneGetOne (G1G1) program struggled late last year.
Many canceled their orders when shipping glitches and production delays hit the first XO laptop. This new unit is expected to begin in November. Pricing has not yet been announced.
Walter Bender, former President of OLPC has launched Sugar Labs to promote the use of Sugar on more devices. Sugar is open source and I’m running it on my Powerbook via VMware’s Fusion. Sugar Lab’s approach: children should not be forced to learning a legacy operating system designed for adult computer programmers.
Lets face facts. XP is not designed for the world’s children living in poverty. The design is simple and perfect for children:
Max’s first laptop will be the new One Laptop Per Child prototype announced this morning by Nichoals Negroponte. No “keyboard” since both sides of this ebook reader will support a virtual keyboard.
But I’d like to buy a 1st Gen unit too. And I’ll config it to run Sugar.
Well the long wait is over. Microsoft Press Release has struck a deal with OLPC to offer XP on those little laptops. I’m not sure this is a good thing. Ask anyone who has Vista if they would like to downgrade back to XP (I did) and then you realize this is what will be introduced to millions of
future Microsoft customers children around the world?
I’m counting on the fact that behind the scenes Microsoft is helping fund OLPC. I’m not sure Sugar has what it takes to be the interface because OLPC clearly failed to market the story behind Sugar. And that’s a shame.