mm267: XO: A missionary position

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MUDGE’S Musings

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Interest continues in the One Laptop Per Child initiative. As faithful reader recalls, this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©‘s interest in the subject continues, also. Here’s where we’ve been:

One Laptop Per Child @ L-HC

mm088: Meet the XO
mm089: Amateur mapmaking…
mm099: A $99 Desktop…
mm149: India’s take…
mm153: By a Laptop, Get one…
mm162: Laptop with a Mission
mm170: Technology and Ed …
mm179: OLPC for India after all?
mm189: OLPC cranks up!
mm203: OLPC: News; discouraging word
mm212: Cheap computing…
mm219: OLPC — Harvard speaks
mm232: Li’l green laptops a hit in Peru
mm247: OLPC — reviews are coming in
mm249: OLPC – News, and a review

Virginia Heffernan of NYTimes Magazine blog, The Medium, provides the following interesting take on XO.

nytimesmagazine

Children’s Crusade

By VIRGINIA HEFFERNAN | Published: January 27, 2008

The much-anticipated XO laptop is an upbeat little instrument, the size of a Bible with a handle. It’s green, the universal color of contemporary virtue. It’s dandy.

The XO was designed, with much fanfare, for One Laptop Per Child, the marvelously hubristic organization created by the M.I.T. new-media guru Nicholas Negroponte to equip two billion children in poor countries with a means to educational salvation. In October, Negroponte presented the laptop at the Vatican to an audience of Roman Catholic schoolteachers and nuns. He stressed that his laptop would not run programs like Word, PowerPoint or Excel. When third-world kids use mainstream office software, he said, “that breaks my heart most.” Instead, he went on, “the children should be making things, they should be sharing things, they should be creating music, creating pictures, making videos, playing with mathematics, accessing the Internet.”

Heffernan’s Bible comparison was no accident. She relates Nicholas Negroponte’s OLPC program to a mission: that of delivering education to the world’s 2 billion underserved children.

She writes equally colorfully about the impact of the XO on some preschool children, and on her technologically sophisticated self:

In my apartment, the sight of an electronic device that was built to last was almost jarring. My trembling, delicate, temperamental laptop suddenly seemed like a dying tropical bird, while the XO is a happy, healthy puppy. A tough puppy. The XO is said to withstand desert heat, direct sunlight, thick humidity, distressing falls, dirt, rainstorms and (I’m not kidding) assault by cats. Kate and I invited some preschool-age kids, including hers and mine, to come beat it up. They squealed and crowded in cinematically to glimpse the holy thing.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Virginia Heffernan – The Medium – Television – Internet Video – Media – New York Times

Looked and thought about the XO and OLPC quite thoroughly over the past months, as the linklist above reveals, but the fervent missionary aspect, and its realization in plastic and metal Heffernan sees, had not occurred to me. As one for whom religious missions have no part of his own background, I find it a bit disconcerting.

Nonetheless, in the words of one of the MUDGElet’s primary school educators whose name is long since lost in the mists of time:

“May the best educational experience win!”

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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One Response to mm267: XO: A missionary position

  1. Appreciating the persistence you put into your blog and in depth information you offer. It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same old rehashed material. Wonderful read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

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