13 April 2012

The Failures of XO

The Failure of One Laptop Per Child

Right from the start, my thoughts and experience with OLPCs was that they would be successful in the wealthy countries more than the poor.

OLPC proved a design concept and sparked the whole affordable netbook and tablet development. But in the poor countries they rolled in on mass, they delivered a totally unique-alien device with next to no contextual relationship, and probably little association with  computing aspirations held by locals, if any. An operating system that, while innovative, offers little immediate skills transfer to other computing devices, if such skill even had value or relevance, and to a less degree, the same can be said for the hardware and the XO mechanics programs they're rolling out.

The shame of it though is they layed the market foundation at the institutional and government level, for big money to flow to threw idea of supplied personal, portable computing devices. So in walk Apple, Google and Microsoft to meet that new market and their "digital education revolutions".

If computing is something that people need and want, maybe learning how to build their own, from spare parts and free software, would see them develop highly transferable skills, and a sense of independence and self determination to boot. Having spent far too much money on computers and software myself, I wish I had more of that skill, and that more people around me had those skills as well.

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