Children's Reviews of OLPC XO Technology


While we can endlessly debate One Laptop Per Child on OLPC News, what really matters will be the opinions and adoption of XO technology by children. And recently children have been expressing their views on the matter.

gabe olpc
Gabe, focused on XO activities

First up is Chris Schmidt's experience with giving an OLPC XO to a friend's young son:

I snapped a dozen pictures of Gabe (mercy_rain's son) and SJ Klein (OLPC Manager of Content) with the OLPC.

Note that Gabe had never seen one of these things before, and with practically no help from the adults, he had started painting, typing, and playing with the webcam, cackling quite evilly the whole time.

The photo set is damn cute, a visual statement to the XO's appeal.

Then twelve year old "SG" made a surprisingly well-written literary statement about the $100 laptop" on Freedom to Tinker:

My expectations for this computer were, I must admit, not very high. But it completely took me by surprise.

It was cleverly designed, imaginative, straightforward, easy to understand (I was given no instructions on how to use it. It was just, “Here. Figure it out yourself.”), useful and simple, entertaining, dependable, really a “stick to the basics” kind of computer.

It’s the perfect laptop for the job. Great for first time users, it sets the mood by offering a bunch of entertaining and easy games and a camera.

SG also sets the mood for another laptop prototype test, this time maintenance. Nicholas Negroponte's OLPC XO maintenance plan is for children to do 95% of technical support. Apparently Mitch Bradley even believes that a 10-year old could replace an XO motherboard.

To prove the concept, Joel Stanley set up a motherboard replacement challenge, with Philip (10) and his sister Sophie (8), which you can watch or read about:

Now watching that test after Gabe's and SG's reactions, you could be persuaded that One Laptop Per Child doesn't really need an implementation plan, that Negroponte's dreams can be a reality without intensive teacher training or cultural integration.

But before these privileged kids' experiences allow you discount my fears of Humpty Dumpty on a million unit scale, remember the real OLPC demographic.

Nicholas Negroponte wants poor, uneducated children in the developing world to learn learning using the OLPC XO. Children who are not intimately familiar with computers and laptops by age 12, who cannot look to Joel Stanley for help, and are not blessed with parents who know SJ Klein.

Children who will need more than just OLPC magic to eliminate poverty with education.

Related Entries


Wayan says "Nicholas Negroponte wants poor, uneducated children in the developing world to learn learning using the OLPC XO. Children who are not intimately familiar with computers and laptops by age 12,..."

My thoughts exactly! What I would have really wanted to see is for some Nigerian children from that school in Galadima to use the so-called "Nigerian toolbox" ( for all kinds of repairs after having used the laptop for several weeks. That would have been significantly more interesting.

BTW, I just realized that according to the Wiki entry X0 testing in Galadima ended this week ( Does that mean that we're finally going to see a decent evaluation on what was really going on in that school once the X0s were introduced? Or will we have to sit through more short'n'sweet stories about "active constructionists"?

It looked more like de-constructionism in that video with Philip and Sophie.

I am still convinced this little laptop is going to save the World. Everything I know now as an Adult and what I learnt as a child tells me this is the new Meccanno. The age of electronic learning is replacing the mechanical learning I had as a child with my Lego and Meccanno kits.

My 30-in-1 electronics kit helped me build my first crystal set. My VIC20 and Commodore64 helped me write my first programs (actually no, my first program was written in 6800 machine code and I calculated the branches and jumps with pen and paper).

Now the XO laptop gives every child a construction kit, virtual lego maybe, programming with activities like Scratch, producing music with Tam Tam. The list goes on.

Give a child a loaf of bread and they are fed for a day, give a child a laptop and they are educated for life.

"Give a child a loaf of bread and they are fed for a day, give a child a laptop and they are educated for life."

-That's assuming the kid isn't starving to death. Give me the loaf first. Then the laptop.

I believe that Wayan Vota picked the right quote to use in this article when he posted "SJ"'s comment; " sets the mood by offering a bunch of entertaining and easy games and a camera."

If that is the impression and response that an educated young reviewer has on this device, then what "tools" are available on this laptop that will "save the world" where electricity is a luxury and there are far more people than there is food to eat?

Where is the connection between this fun little computing device and feeding the millions that are starving? How does this make crops grow in arid land? How does this keep entire cultures from over-breeding their consumable crops and inhabitable land?

Maybe if they're surfing the Web they'll be too busy to notice the grumbling in their stomachs. One thing is for certain, if they are on this computer they are not out planting the next harvest or tending the family's farm animals.

""Give a child a loaf of bread and they are fed for a day, give a child a laptop and they are educated for life."

-That's assuming the kid isn't starving to death. Give me the loaf first. Then the laptop."

It's also assuming the kid doesn't just use the laptop to surf porn, chat with his MySpace buddies, and play games. That's typically what kids do with computers. We can't even get kids to use laptops properly here in the US.

What kind of twelve year old writes like that?

Weren't the kids supposed to do that themselves? I'm very annoyed by the large supervising hand telling them what to do and how. For your next test, please leave the kids alone with it.

Poor kids living on the street can teach themselves how to use a computer and the Internet:

In fact, they might do better than many privileged American kids. It takes intelligence, quickness, and a keen eye for detail to survive on the streets with no parents. Don't discount them because they live in filth and are starving, many of them are probably smarter than us, they just don't have the infrastructure and support systems we have.

it doesn't matter whether you give Africans a million or a billion laptops - you can't increase their pitiful IQs, and you can't stop them hideously abusing their children and turning them into braindead idiots. Come back in 50 years' time- Africa will be even WORSE than it is now, in spite of our self-appointed 'leaders' having STOLEN hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars of OUR hard-earned money, (in taxes) to WASTE on this wonderful, advanced continent...

This comment by 'Chas' Owens was hilarious:
"Don't discount them because they live in filth and are starving, many of them are probably smarter than us, they just don't have the infrastructure and support systems we have."

Sure... So kindly explain how, despite having a 50,000 year headstart, Africans have never even invented a wheel, let alone a computer, the internal combusion engine, the Industrial Revolution, and all the other things that WHITES invented...

Stop stealing OUR money. All Africa needs is Norplan given out en masse, and massive population reduction, and repatriation of all the ungrateful blacks who infest OUR white countries. We were never asked if we wanted them. I wonder why that would be?

And before the leftwing cretins start having a go at me, for daring to say what MOST white people THINK, tell me - why don't you believe in democracy? I'm sure you're well aware that MOST white people, even though they aren't allowed to say it, don't want to live near non-whites, and don't want them in OUR countries. Why is it that every 'enriched' (i.e. non-white infested) area is WORSE than when it was all white? How is it that ALL white countries now have OPEN BORDERS and are allowing in millions of non-white parasites, even though the majority of whites in ALL white countries clearly don't want this? Yet we are told we live in democracies? Once whites reach a minority in our OWN countries (and we are only 10% of the entire human population at the moment) then all our countries will descend into third world hell.

Africans are too stupid and selfish to co-operate with each other, and too arrogant to learn. Just look at any area in a white country, that now has a load of blacks in it. Notice their arrogance? Their aggressiveness? If you don't - you soon will... Who the hell would want these people in their countries, demanding WE give them everything on a plate, while they idly swagger around OUR streets, ruining our neighbourhoods, attacking and murdering OUR own people?

Having actually spent some time in Africa with school children setting up computers, I can vouch for one fact: kids are curious, smart, and they figure stuff out. I watched kids who had never seen a computer before figure out how to perform the basics within minutes, with virtually no instruction. I've seen them, a few weeks later, tearing down a computer lab and setting it back up. It doesn't always go smoothly, and I don't know if the project will work in the big picture, but there are definitely many kids who can benefit from this.

As to the comment by John Salmon about Africa being doomed: I'd be shocked if he has actually been to the continent. Amusing how those without knowledge speak so conclusively. I don't think I encountered anyone as hateful, prejudiced, or ignorant as him in my travels over there.


To the world at large:

We, WHITE people, apologize for the IGNORANT JERKS like John Salmon who have somehow bread into our population and who post INSANE DIATRIBES with WEIRD CAPITALIZATION to public forums. If anyone needed "Norplan" (I am assuming he meant the birth control "Norplant") it was this guy's mother.

Again, on behalf of the sane members of the human race, I humbly apologize for this filth.


John Salmon: don't put your poisonous words into my mouth or the mouths of other white people who don't subscribe to your racist ideology.

You're entitled to your opinion, but take it elsewhere. You're not going to convince people working on the OLPC project that it's not worthwhile, and I doubt you'll convince anyone else.

Skin color has nothing to do with intelligence or socialization ability. After all, civilization started in the middle east (not that it has progressed very far, but I blame religion for that).

I go to college in the cheapest state university in my state (Maryland) and there are plenty of people of every type here. Some are smart, and most aren't. What you are attributing to skin color has very little to do with skin color and more to do with indoctrination than anything else. When children grow in an environment that doesn't value human life, what do you think happens?

Seriously, get a clue. Educate yourself. And yes, I'm white. I'm most likely whiter than you, even. I'm one of those blue eyed devils... but I'm also a Comp Sci major, and that means I get no sun. ;)

I guess it just needs to be said for the record that the hate and ignorance displayed in Mr. Salmon's entries are sad. I hope that I'm just being dull and it's actually really well disguised sarcasm?

Who is this nazi writing here?

I am white. Tall, blonde, blue eyes, all that crappy nazi stuff. Yet I have to disagree entirely with you, Salmon. People like you are the world's disease. That make american black people pissed off and be agressive. Just a defensive movement against shit like you.

You should actually try to know what you talk about. If not africa, try some of the two biggest black countries of the world: us and brazil.

Go live in sweden. Among polar bears, perhaps. And shut up.

I love in Montgomery County, Maryland.

64% White
15% Black
11% Asian

And one of the lowest crime rates in the nation.

So, try again.

Dear Mr. Salmon,

You are a Genuine Twit.

I'm A 1%er (outlaw biker) and even I find your Bigoted Ranting to be Repulsive. BTW, I'm a wm
mid 50's and I got no use for lefties or righties
or mindless twits of any flavor.

Mr. Salmon, go and crawl back into the dirty little hole you came out of. Your racism is uncalled for, and you are a complete and utter retard - and that's giving retards a bad name. I shan't lower myself to your levels any further than that. Just stop this nonsense, nobody follows your faulty logic, and nobody agrees with you either.

"Go live in sweden. Among polar bears, perhaps. And shut up." (Alexandre Strube on August 14, 2007)

Dude... how could you wish that kind of misery on the Swedes? They're humans too...

John Salmon;
You are an actual Nazi.

"...we don't owe non-whites anything, certainly not the right to just move into OUR once beautiful countries and ruin them"
So your country (USA) is automatically yours and definitely doesn't really belong to the native American (non-white) people you stole it from?


america wasnt always white.
it was through rape, pillage, and deceit that whites came to power here.

John Salmon is correct, his views are slightly over the top, but he is correct. it is a fact of Life.

Especially here in the UK. The main reason for these only-black areas is because they move in wherever there is cheap housing, and why does that happen? one black movies in, white's panic and begin selling, prices go down. More move in for knock down price, before long you have a totally-black 'neighbourhood' take the town's of "Bradford" or "Burnley" for example.

John Salmon,

I will try to answer your 'unanswered questions'.

'We were never asked if we wanted them. I wonder why that would be?'

'Them' presumably means blacks and other foreign workers. The blacks were brought in by the americans as slaves, and then a war decided that they should be given full rights, this was a war between whites, so you could say that it was democratically decided. More recently, Hispanics are allowed to work becuase the government is trying to save the economy by bringing cheap labor in. Thus bypassing the minumum wage law. I am not sure I agree that it is the wisest think to do, but it's not clear cut. In any case, our current economy depends on the cheap labor that they provide.
This means that the real builders of the USA are the blacks and the perhaps this is their country....

All of the other americans (whites, as you call them), are also foreigners. We came here and massacred the local population...How's that for being civilized?

'how do black gettos form?'

For a getto to form it doesn't take a strong bias. Over time, a weak bias will do. You are correct that people have a slight preference to living among there own kind. This is a natural human desire. However it doesn't prove that the 'other' is inferior. Even among white we get gettos, how otherwise do you have nieghborhoods with a homogeneous socio-economic level? Again, a slight preference to living among your own kind is translated to a slight preference to living near people of the same or similar socio-economic level. Does this mean that we should kick out of the country all of the people with a lower income than you? Be careful with this one..if you say yes, you will end up being the poorest person in the US... and then, you will either get evicted, by your own logic, or simply suffer from being just that.

'Africans have never even invented a wheel...'
Last time I checked, Egypt was in africa. A short list of what they invented: Writing, math, astronomy, glass, pottery, cement, wine, board games, the alphabet, the idea of a peace treaty, steel...the list goes on (and yes, they used wheels...).

Egypt was a civilization that lasted for a few millenia...very few of your day-to-day 'technologies' cannot be traced back to egypt...

'Lucky the British fought so hard against the Germans in WWII, otherwise the country would have been invaded by foreigners!'

The Nazi frame of mind (which is not that different from yours) is precisely what the British were fighting! So this statement strikes me as running counter the rest of your posts.

I could go on, but I have some work to do...

I doubt you'll change your mind due to my note, but I couldn't let your assertions remain unchallenged.

All the best.

John Salmon,

I'm white, have green eyes, of a European heritage. I was born in Canada, North America.

I have a few statements for you, mostly factual. Some are my opinions, hopefully nobody thinks I'm being ignorant.

1. White people are directly genetically related (as in family) to black people and all other humans on earth. Human life initially started in that part of the world. Any differences between us are merely environmental or societal.

2. Not all countries have racial issues like the USA. Canada (where I live) has no ghettos. Our economy relies heavily on immigration of all sorts and it is seen as a very positive thing.

3. Canada has far fewer illegal aliens than the US, probably because of where we are situated and we don't share a border with Mexico. Therefore, many of our immigrants are legal, intelligent, well educated and able to support themselves when they arrive due to immigration policy. Because of this, I think there are very few people with racist views towards of people different ethnic backgrounds. I also believe that because of these views, they have an equal chance at becoming successful compared to any white person.

4. There are dumb, useless people all over the world. A lot of them live in the USA and other first world nations. Many of them have never invented a "wheel, let alone a computer, the internal combusion engine". Alot of them are violent, undernourished, uneducated, ignorant people. You, Salmon, seem to be one of them.

5. Racist views, held by both white people and other ethnic groups is probably what is responsible for many of the issues that you experience in your own back yard (the USA). It's sort of a chicken before the egg type of thing. I have no idea how you can ever fix that, but good luck.

People miss the point when discussing the OLPC project. It's not aimed at countries where people are starving. It's aimed at the 2nd world not the 3rd world countries.

Please all STFU.
And then some admin person please delete all discriminatory comments and reactions, so that these comments look on-topic again.
OLPC is not about race, but about children.

Ignoring the weirdness above, and Negroponte's plans for this laptop, I think he's stumbled across a method for profiting from the laptops: he could sell them as kits to technically-inclined kids and have the kids put them together, kind of like those robot kits they used to sell in the 90's.

I'd have pestered my parents for one.

There's something very fishy about Mr Salmon.

He is posting controversial ideas that normal people find abhorrent in order to exact some sort of pleasure from our outrage.

I didnt read most of what he wrote. It didnt deserve any attention.

I'm pleased to see reports on children using the laptops. Regardless of who uses them, African, Asian or Anglo, Rich, Poor or Middle class, the phenomenon behind the OLPC movement has already changed the World.

The children that will be educated by these laptops will be far more knowledgeable than children of ten years ago. How will that affect the future?

I can't believe he keeps going on about "blacks" taking over "white countries" and "our countries". He's clearly living in the US of A... Which was pretty much stolen by white immigrants.

Rabid NeoNazi Prick.

I suggest for some of the commentors here that reading "Guns, Germs and Steel" might be a very good idea before making provocative comments. There are excellent reasons why certain civilisations did 'better' than others and they stem not from natural intelligence but access to particular crops and easily domesticated animals. Anyway, I recommend this book highly. It should deal adequately with some of the views expressed here in a scholarly and reasoned way.

To begin with, no matter how retarded nazis are, their points needs to be addressed or some people will actually start listening to them.
So, I actually kinda agree with the nazi that you are idiots in just screaming nazi to him, that clearly doesn't work.

Let's see, his primary arguments are:
1: Whites do no like non-whites and they should therefore not be allowed in our democratic countries.
2: White people are the superior race since we invented a lot of stuff which the other ones didn't, notably black people who didn't invent pretty much anything in their 50k year headstart.
3: Non-whites stand for most of the crime in the states.
4: Non-whites have much more problems than white countries.

I might have forgotten something, but these are the ones most commonly repeated.

1: I can't speak for the states, but my experience from sweden is that all colors get along as well as their own color, all people bicker and fight with each other to some extent, and all colors get together in relationships pretty much equally barring the demographic difference.
In short, people when not fed any view seem to view each other as people rather than races except in segregated societies.
2: Actually, white people have generally been far behind the technological curve, the indians in south america and egyptians where doing advanced math and calculating the movement of stars and even using steam-power about the same time the blonde whites started showing up.
Arabs performed advanced eye-surgery while we didn't even wash our surgery implements, chinese invented the black powder, money and a whole lot of other things when we where living in tiny cottages.
The reason we have gotten so much farther than all other cultures is that all great societies develop in a time of strength, and ours just happened to be the latest, sooner or later our society will stagnate and the next culture will dominate instead, that has been the way for all of human evolution.
The reason africans (barring the north-africans of course) lived such primitive lifes is quite simple, they live in places where such things weren't needed to survive, while we moved to places where we needed a whole lot of stuff the even have the chance to survive (part of me wonders if we where really smart?).
3: I won't even try to show statistics, cause they are in no way reliable (I've seen statistics differ on the same subjects to many times to even try to dignify it at all).
However, my impression from all that I've read and seen is that non-whites frequent prisons more than whites, this is all too often accredited to racism, which may be true in some instances.
However, the mayor point is that it's poor people in jail, rich people hardly go to jail or get long sentences, economic crime which ruins many people lives are quite frankly not seen as terrible as physical crimes.
People embezzling millions of dollars ruining houndres, even thousands of peoples lives get less time (and less harsh times of course since they can bribe people in jail) than someone who performed a terrible deed against a single person (raping, murdering them so on and so forth).
The common man from all colors is just trying to get by, most people only break minor laws they don't think hurts anyone, that's a fact.
The poor people are more prone to perform "survival" crimes such as petty theft and burglary since they can't find other things to do or have been raised to believe that is the only way to make it.
4: Yup, rich countries have less problems than poor countries.
However, note that not many countries had problems before we started to colonize them or make war to them.
I'm not saying you and me are guilty of all the atrocities performed by our white forefathers, I think that's crap, however, if we don't take the blame for all the atrocities, how can we then claim pride for their benevolent acts?
Also, countries which has actually grown rich and stable are comparable to european countries and the stats (there are no rich black countries in my definition).
Also, african countries where the majority of people are white exist (south africa for one), and the fact is that they are not decidedly better off than where it's the other way around.

As a final note, it's complete bullshit that no black women are raped by white men, also, there are quite a lot of white women being raped by white men.


Please stop arguing with this weirdo. Don't let him hijack this page. Leave him alone, people can see through his 'bs' by themselves, give them some credit...

You know, arguing on the internet is like running in the Special Olympics. Even if you win you are still retarded :p

Concerning the OLPC. I hope it has success, but I don't think it will have a great impact. Imho there are different things that have to be done to help those people... Hope I'm wrong and this is the first step...

It's been clear since his first comment that John Salmon is a troll. Nothing more.
One of the most important rules in forums and blogs is: don't feed the trolls. So, please, stop feeding the troll, stop wasting time discussing the crap he's got in his head, and let's talk about serious stuff, like OLPC.

Have a look at the full review on Freedom To Tinker. It's mostly positive, but SG does say what the drawbacks are: Long application loading times, the computer gets slower if you don't reboot it (memory leaks?), battery power runs down quickly and it doesn't give you any warning that it's going to run out.

It does look like a nice machine, but the software seems to be in need of some love. Bug fixing and "lightening the load" mostly.

There are kids in the Western world who can barely use computers - I'd be very interested to see what they say about it, because they are going to be more likely to talk about what they did on the computer, rather than the computer itself.

No matter how intense our feelings around One Laptop Per Child and its impacts on education, technology, and society, I will not tolerate bigotry and hate like that espoused by "John Solomon".

His comments do not concern OLPC, nor would they be tolerated in civil society, so he's been banned from this site and I will be removing his comments forthwith. I find his words too insulting to even leave up for review.

For the real facts about "head starts", "inventing the wheel", relative IQs between races etc., read Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel".

Bet Mr Salmon doesn't get past the first chapter.

Pls pls pls pls pls OLPC let me buy one in the UK, I will gladly pay double. I just want a cheap machine to use in the garden.

Somehow Im sure I will be able to get one with or without your blessing. But would rather do it legit.

Congratulations to everyone who has replied to Mr. Salmon's diatribe. You have fulfilled his desire to hijack this page.

This isn't about "whites," or "blacks," or intelligent poultry. This is about the XO unit being tested.

Lets try, please, to keep that way?

As to the OLPC review above, I have to agree with a commenter who said that there was way too much interference/assistance in replacing the main board.

If a main board replacement is to be done "in the field," then it should be attempted and purpose-built towards someone who has little resources and a failing memory of how its done. Which is how it'll be attempted in real life - by someone who doesn't disassemble the things all the time, may have some badly written or photocopied instructions somewhere, and maybe a screwdriver.

Addressing Sean T. here:

Quote 1: "If that is the impression and response that an educated young reviewer has on this device, then what "tools" are available on this laptop that will "save the world" where electricity is a luxury and there are far more people than there is food to eat?"

My response: The impression of a first world child who is already familiar with computers and electronics isn't exactly the best, most meaningful review of OLPC. How about we wait until we hear from some of the third world children who aren't familiar with computers and see what they think?

And as for what "tools" ? The OLPC itself is a tool. How will it be used? Unknown at this point. But you would be surprised at the innovative uses that can be found for tools, some of which are not at all obvious and expected uses.

Some of the OLPCs may not be used for anything beyond the ordinary, some will be used for things that are surprisingly innovative and perhaps a very select few in the hands of clever children may well result in extraordinary things.

Quote 2: "Where is the connection between this fun little computing device and feeding the millions that are starving? How does this make crops grow in arid land?"

My response: That remains to be seen.

Quote 3: "Maybe if they're surfing the Web they'll be too busy to notice the grumbling in their stomachs. One thing is for certain, if they are on this computer they are not out planting the next harvest or tending the family's farm animals."

My response: Is that your vision for the future of the children for whom the OLPC is intended? Subsistence farming? Instead of sending them computers you'd rather send them seeds, hoes, and books on animal husbandry?

Personally I'd rather the children the OLPC is intended for have a chance to do something beyond scratching out a meagre living in the dirt.

Maybe OLPC will offer them that chance. Maybe it won't. I'd still rather give a child the OLPC and say "Go learn something" instead of handing them a hoe and saying "Go be a farmer."

"Go live in sweden. Among polar bears, perhaps. And shut up." (Alexandre Strube on August 14, 2007)

What the? Why do you want to punish us poor Swedes with Mr. Salmon? ;)

I teach in an Information Technology degree program with a very high proportion of students from outside the United States (about 70% in our graduate program) and our African students have proven to be some of our very best--enthusiastic, a great work ethic, and a real pleasure to have in class. I eagerly await the day when the kids who will be getting OLPCs start showing up in my classes, and I hope I can stay open to learning from them because I expect with that level of experience they will have something to teach me!

SG sure is a self-possessed and talented 12-year old. A better writer then many you'll find hammering out copy for the New York Times. Whatever.

As someone up the thread mentioned, the kids were hardly repairing the XO. They were using tools while someone else pointed out where and how to apply the tools and in what order. Hardly a strong indicator that the expectation that 95% of maintenance can be done by kids will hold true. You could use a functioning XO to run a how-to program which, without a handy adult familiar with the XO to supervise, would prove something.

But expecting kids who've never seen a computer and are surrounded by adults in the same fix, hardly seems like a situation that obviates the need for repair facilities. Rather, it supports my contention that selling XO's in the developed world, preferably in and around the Detroit area, is a better route to getting the computers out to the developing countries then expecting those countries to buy the computers and hand them out to their people.

These repearing kids have $600+ ergonomic chairs... And they have $100 OLPCs?!

One more thing. As mentioned, the kids haven't done a thing by them selfs.
Perhaps someone could make a gif-animation or a little video (or just a faq) to show how to proceed if xy needs to be repaired. These are than stored on the OLPC, if one is broke you could use the next as a manual (given there is one).
If you want them to repair the OLPC by them self, I think (if possible) you should provide them with the tools.

Perhaps a little clip (30sec.) could be played when the OLPC is stared the first time to show the basics and what to and not to do (i.e. leaving it in the sun)?
Please excuse my poor English and good luck!

Dear Mr. Salmon,

Most of what you attribute to race can be much better explained by:

1) availability of potential crops and domestic animals.
2) the orientation of continental axis to facilitate the spread of agriculture.
3) transfer of knowledge between continents
4) population size.

I doubt this will deter your racist views, but I figured I would try.

The technologist in me thinks OLCP is a great idea, but like many in the 1st world I have a guilt that our government-sponsored trade systems exploit 3rd world countries. Hopefully this may help close the divide.
BUT I have a serious reservation about the project. What kind of data are these kids going to be indoctrinated with over the internet that they find? Is it going to be behind some great local government firewall that deprives them of information other than that their government wants them to see? Or will they be drawn to the uncaring, abusive, monopolistic, pornographic, exploitive, intolerant, sensationalistic and inaccurate side of the internet? I very much hope not! I really to hope the antonyms of all those are true, for the internet can bring a truly glorious immersion in information and learning.

For the record, I'm 90% European. I have blue eyes and was born with blond hair. Every one of my sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law is a member of a minority. I am currently dating someone from a minority race.

Intelligence and work ethics are not tied to race nor skin color. A culture (both familial and societal) greatly influence them. Given the tools and opportunities, anyone can succeed.

Don't feed the trolls, halfway down the comments this idiot changed the conversation.

I think indeed the laptop, regardless of arid land, lack oif water and food etc, will indeed change education and therefore ingenuity in the third world. Babies will grow up on them and they will have siblings and parents who 'know' them and the computing power and machined durability of the product will increase. A child will say wawa and the computer will find them water.

Nothing wrong with a computer helping to survive. And once that's taken care of let's learn some math and health and creative thinking skills.

There are vaster changes than we can imagine. DO not give up on the third world because in many ways, they are our hope as well. And in th e future they willl lead us. Don't be short sighted. See the big picture, everyone must grow. A laptop at current won't feed anyone but if it helps people become educated, maybe they will fight each other less and help each other more.


Morgan Collett has confirmed that "SG" was using a BTest-2 XO laptop, not the latest BTest-4 and has done a comparison of the run times for different activities running build 542:

Switch on to “home” screen:
* B2: 128 seconds
* B4: 72 seconds

Launch “Write”, the AbiWord version for Sugar:
* B2: 25s
* B4: 9s

Launch “Web”, the browser:
* B2: 39s
* B4: 14s

Just what is the African going to be doing in 20 or 30 years, which is the kind of timeframe that one needs to assess if this laptop computer will be of any real social value.

Will all of them be in jobs that need a computer, or will many of them be in jobs where a computer is not needed, or will many of them be farmers, growing crops to feed themselves and their family and maybe sell some of it.

I am not a catastrophist, nor am I a luddite, I have been using computers daily for the past 30 years, but we must realize that over the next decade or so we are going to face the situation of markedly increased fossil fuel costs, and eventually virtually no fossil fuel, to say nothing of the consequences of climate change. This is going to lead to a mighty change in our lifestyle, as well as those around the world.

We may well be living in situations where computers are not going to be all that useful, and I think that we will be the advantaged ones of the world. Those living in Africa are going to face significant problems of food production, and water and energy supply. To deal with this they are going to need intelligent, creative, workers. The best way to do this is to ensure that children have the opportunity to explore their lives as completely as possible, to play, to use their imagination, to draw, and write, and sing, and paint, and NOT to spend time fiddling with a computer and surfing the net or whatever.

Computers likely will be essential for some Africans (hopefully as much as for Americans), but they may well best learn what they need to know about them when they need to do so: i.e. as adults, maybe as older teenagers. There is little proof that getting children to use computers as part of their education benefits them at all. Resources are short, let us not waste them on toys that replace the real tools of childhood: nature, paint, books, pencils, games.

My daughter's school, a medium-priced private elementary school, recently purchased an electronic whiteboard which has not been plugged in yet. None of the teacher have the time or inclination to learn to use the tool. That would be the problem I see with the XO.
I know kids and this will be a toy to play with unless it comes with teacher training.

Having worked with many people from Africa, as well as being involved with an orphanage in Zambia, I think these computers are going to be revolutionary teaching tools for those in developing countries.

Imagine having a door that has been slammed shut against you with all kinds of treasures behind it suddenly opened--Western children are spoiled in their pursuit of frivolities, true, but it would be foolish to say that computers haven't been sources of information and education to the average Western child. My own children bookmarked Wikipedia and other sources and don't hesitate to look things up--Children love to learn, and this laptop looks to serve that desire beautifully.

People in Africa are not living in 'deserts' or counting grains like some people think. They live in busy cities and suburbs that often resemble our own, and their poverty is the result of political issues and hardships caused by conflict. Learning a different way of life comes by education, and the laptop could very well deliver.

Look at India. Thanks to the IT industry, India now has a growing middle class where it never had one before. Don't think technology can't change the world for the better--It already has in many, many ways.

Don, you might want to see if you can dig up a copy of "Limits to Growth". It's getting a bit long in the tooth now but it's a classic about resource depletion and has specific predictions based on the best available information and methodologies of the time.

A number of important industrial resources like tin and zinc should already be completely gone according to "Limits". Turns out the rumors of their death have been greatly exaggerated.

It further turns out that the only resource worth conserving, vigorously promoting, producing and protecting is human ingenuity which comes neatly packaged in human beings. The XO may be a piece of the puzzle of releasing the ingenuity trapped in people who happen to live in lousy circumstances but the computer in some form will clearly be the technological agent that does the releasing.

Aren't there any posting rules around here?

All the racist posting should be removed, simply because it's off topic. I don't care about your view on race, democracy or even free speech: just stick to the subject.

So, please, Mr. Admin: remove the off-topic stuff, it is poisoning YOUR site. Don't ask us not to feed the troll: remove the trolls, please.


There are posting rules, and I deleted the more outlandish comments. I've left these here to show that there are those that dislike OLPC and yet many, many more who love the idea of technology for children.

I was very excited when I received my XO. When it came out of the box, my first impression was, “Wow this is CUTE. This has to be a great toy.” (The next thought was “How the hell do you open it??”)

Once I started out playing and working with the XO, which I did for about two weeks, I felt a little less in love with it. First of all was the keyboard. I was very happy when I found that a USB keyboard worked fine. Folks, get real. The tiny keyboard is an impediment to poor kids that grow up and still need their computer. Exploitive adults will just plug in a cheap keyboard and mouse. This is a really stupid “feature” that was not thought through. It just makes the computer less useful top the target market and less marketable to governments, NGOs etc. This has to be fixed.

Software evaulation: 1) It needs a file system. If kids write stuff etc. they need to file what they write in folders. The current version is simply incomplete. By the way, the Journal is not permanent. Items get deleted as new ones are created. It is OK that the storage needs to be a memory stick, but there has to be a non-Linux way to access the file structure. I think they just didn’t have time to get this done. This is critical.

2) Re didn’t get done: cut and paste don’t work yet! That makes a lot of things, especially Linux software installs really hard. This also MUST get fixed fast.

3) Browse is not a complete browser, no bookmarks etc. No cut and paste. Please finish it.

4) No Flash. Without Flash, Browse was really useless, no Youtube, no Flickr slide shows etc. If you insist on no Flash initially, at least make it possible to load Flash by clicking on a link (make the installation .xo). Without cut and paste it was really bad. I kept making command line typos. Why make this so ridiculously hard? What about the intended audience, who probably won’t have broadband Internet access? Get real.

5) Opera: This was ALMOST a solution, but there are font size problems etc. that are noted on the Wiki page. The worst was the tiny mouse arrow in Opera.

6) No email application: A VERY simple application is needed. Access to G-Mail does not meet the need. This needs to be developed.

And NOW to my CRIPPLING hardware problems. First, 10 days after the XO, arrived, it just stopped working. I took out the battery cleaned the contacts and reinstalled it a couple of times. It then started working again. Is there a problem here??

REALLY CRIPPLING: Shortly after I installed Opera (15 minutes or so later), input from the keyboard went crazy. At first I thought it was just in Opera, but then it turned out to be general. When I typed either the wrong characters were entered or later nothing happened. I could not even try to fix THAT, so I called for an RMA.

I was on the phone waiting for over an hour. There must be a lot of other machines being returned for repairs. Is it the same problem I had? I haven’t seen that mentioned by anyone else yet, but …

This is a computer that needs to be reliable under rough circumstance. if these computers are shoddily made, the project is doomed.

Final thoughts: despite all this it is hard not to like, even love, the XO, but really it is a project, not a product. The product needs to be finished, or it ill turn off its potential audience. (I hope a certain Prof. Negroponte is listening.)

After finishing the product, I would also make it available for first-world kids. The price of the product could be, say, $250, $200 for the computer plus a $50 donation to the project. It is really adorable and people will buy it and get hooked on the project. This is just a variant on G1G1, and it would work.

Despite my disappointments, I am still guardedly enthusiastic about the project, but there is a lot of work that is needed before it can succeed.