OLPC XO

It surprises me that there hasn’t been more of a stir in library tech circles regarding the One Laptop Per Child project. I’m not sure whether it’s lack of interest or awareness or a combination of both, but this is something that should be right up the alley of any public librarian who is interested in helping people educate themselves. For those of you who are suffering from a lack of awareness about the project, the gist is this:

A non-profit organisation has designed and is now manufacturing a laptop that costs about $200US for use by children in developing or poor areas of the world. The aim is to provide them with access to knowledge and the technological literacy skills many jobs now require. The organisation is now selling them on a give-one-get-one basis to America and Canada, wherein buyers pay $400 ($200 of which is tax deductible) to get one laptop for themselves and one laptop for a child in a developing nation.

Nice idea, huh? It gets even better when you look at the more technical side of things.

XO laptopThe laptops have no moving parts, making them incredibly durable. They’re spill-proof and dust-proof. They don’t need access to mains electricity and run off very little power. They wirelessly network together with incredible ease and enable a single internet connection can be shared by an entire community. They function as e-book readers. The software used is free and open source. They run on a stripped-back version of Fedora Linux and have a web-browser based on the same technology that Firefox, You can use them to IM or communicate through VOIP. You can synthesise music to go along with your essay. Heck, you can even now play Sim City on them, and they look cute to boot. They can also be set up so that they become worthless when stolen, non-functional bricks.

So, why is this something libraries should be jumping up and down in joy about? Think about it for a second.

Cheap, but functional, laptops. Cheap, functional, extremely durable laptops. Cheap, functional, extremely durable laptops that are nearly idiot proof and can be bricked if they get ‘stolen’. This is a laptop that you can keep in the kid’s section without fear of breakage. This is a laptop you can lend out without a lot of fear that you’ll never see it again. Forget wikis and blogs and a lot of 2.0-isms, this is using technology to help people educate themselves and their children.

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Published in: on November 25, 2007 at 7:06 am  Leave a Comment  
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