Wednesday, April 01, 2009


having spent a fair amount of time with the OLPC laptop/netbook (i've started calling him Gnort), i was gonna post up on the blog about this lil' guy and my personal experiences with it, even though we're all gonna get into some of the nitty gritty of all that tomorrow.

figuring out the opening of the actual unit itself might seem a bit difficult to most people, but i was lucky enough to have the SLIS attendant open it up in front of me so as to avoid any embarrassing moments in front of my peers.

i've never been really too sure about the whole "unboxing" thing that is spread all over youtube, but please help yourself to a video of someone going through the (very audible and sniffly) "how do i get it out of here? what does this do? etc."

so, now that we've opened up the box, gotten a tissue or three, and played around with the thing for a while, we can hop, skip, and click our way over to david pogue's fairly comprehensive video review from the ny times:

instead of programs, the XO has activities, and is designed for collaboration. instead of only seeing wireless networks to connect to, you're also able to see the other computers in the area, which are shown as being part of a "mesh network." other XO computers show up as stick figures are can be invited to collaborate in various activities. since SLIS only has one of the XOs, we can't test this aspect of the hardware, but you can see the potential for this to be truly useful in any number of educational settings.

this next video is a pretty thorough overview of an older interface which is not running on the machnie that SLIS circulates:

the future of this is going to be an interesting one. last summer, OLPC ruffled a lot of feathers when it began shipping laptops with windows installed on them as opposed to sugar, the python based OS that we've seen in all the videos so far. the reasons for this are many, and include the fact that some of the countries the laptops are being shipped to aren't so keen on open source software, and legally require something as widely supported and documented as windows.

there's a whole hornets nest of interesting stuff going on in here, and certainly one blog post isn't gonna cut it when we're talking about the digital divide, open source software, geopolitical tech issues, the role that this technology should fulfill, on and on and on...

i'll leave you with what i think is a positive note, though i have no means of actually understanding the dept (or lack of depth) given language barriers. here's what i presume is a Paraguayan family that has been recording themselves with the laptops 30 frames per second camera, and posting the clips to youtube. if anyone out there knows what they're saying, and what they're saying is personal or whatever, lemme know and i'll take down the link, but i'm assuming that given the context, and since it's on youtube, it's fair game for our class to check out.


  1. Dude, you should have posted a spoiler screen or something.

  2. spoiler screen for class tomorrow? s'all good. this is all good and well and everything, but actually getting down and dirty with the little green midget is gonna be cool enough.

  3. or were you talking about spoiling the mystery of how to open the thing?

  4. They are talking about their family vacation and what they did with their XO (only we don't quite get to hear what they did). In case you were wondering.

  5. Yeah, for the mystery of how to open it. :oP

  6. I couldn't get past the first video (though I read the text of this post)...I stopped it when man unpacking the box commented on the cords. But that's not a comment on your choice to post the video, Chris.

  7. I suspect the last video may be part of a homework assignment given either by OLPC or some of the schools using it. Anyone know more about this?

    In other news I thought this review was more interesting, and probably a more accurate sense of the way young people actually conceptualize what the device does:

  8. awesome! you can also see some of the differences in the software interface from about a year and a half ago to the software i was showing off this morning, specifically the camera activities. you can also see some of the collaborative aspects that we weren't able to get too deep into.