Wednesday, January 30, 2008

One Laptop Per Child

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project is an extension of the vision of an architect and computer scientist, Mr. Nicholas Negroponte and his crew at MIT, the Media Club. There are various blog sites where you can find out about the mixed opinions on the One Laptop Per Child project, and it's a healthy debate on many levels.

The main opponents to the idea argue that laptops will not feed and clothe the poor and hungry. Mr. Negroponte is a determined man with a vision; a vision shown in his 1995 bestseller, "Being Digital". The book describes his speculations on "the interactive world, the entertainment world and the information world eventually merge." Back then, his critics already thought that Mr. Negroponte's "techno-utopian" ideas were askew from the realities of current socio-political and historical environment.

Who hasn't read the news lately? The "reality" presented by mainstream media is often a dismal forecast. There is an alternative thinking mode, and Mr. Negroponte is a model for this.
He's probably heard arguments against OLPC many times and in an interview with LAPTOP, back in April 29, 2007 he responded:
LAPTOP: Critics of the OLPC project maintain that developing countries need food, development, and medical aid--not laptops. What's your response?
Substitute the word "education" for "laptop" and you will never ask that question again. The theory of OLPC is simple: There are 1.2 billion children in primary and secondary schools worldwide. Fifty percent of those schools have no electricity, and many are so rural they hold class under a tree. Many teachers do not show up, or have barely a sixth-grade education themselves. Under these conditions, while we build schools and train teachers (a 20- to 30-year process), let's leverage the children themselves, inside and outside of the school.
Mr. Negroponte is a visionary like the other great thinkers (Leonardo DaVinci, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin) who have evolved our way of living and thinking.

I admire Mr. Negoponte's gumption to realize his dream. Upon reviewing the history of the OLPC since its birth in 1967 with the development of "Logo" (a programming language written for children) up to this year when the XO computer has already began its distribution and children are beginning to learn with the XO, it's a great feat equal to the launch of the first rocket into space.

Why do I think this is an achievement in progress? It takes a lot of will and energy to gather the right minds and hands to plan the project and build the tool (XO laptop). The challenges can include but aren't limited to: technical boundaries, the politics of different wills, the social landmines.

It would be hard to fault Mr. Negroponte's good intention and the sweat and his own financial backing into the project. Upon closer inspection of the content in the OLPC main website, I think there is a definite influence by Mr. Negrotone on the makeup of the tone and content in the OLPC website.

The main page is a simple design of four symbols that convey the message and goal:
1 laptop -> o
(the laptop is a symbol)

Mr. Negroponte's actions show a person who thinks out of the box; a trait that results in the revolution of change.

-Analyn Revilla

Official website of the OLPC:
BBC Technology for discussions on the OLPC:

1 comment:

jennifer said...

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