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