A Simple OLPC Personalization Plan: Stickers

   
   
   
   
   

Physical theft of the OLPC XO is a worry for everyone involved in the OLPC "$100" laptop project. While Ivan Krstić is focused on a firmware solution, Bitfrost, this weekend, Walter Bender announced a more obvious solution: the physical form factor of the Children's Machine XO symbol:

A method for creating 400 different colors of XOs on the back cover of the laptop was decided: multi-color XO pieces of plastic will be attached via heat stake to the back cover of the laptop. 20 colors will be used for the X and the O, creating 400 unique combinations, enough for each child in a small school to have their own colors.
While XO color variations an interesting idea, and a start at personalization, might Jonah Bossewitch have more cost effective anti-theft solution? Stickers!
olpc stickers
Stickers say: "mine!"
I recently had a chance to see the laptops in person at the UN CTAUN Info fair. The experience and this series got me thinking... All of these laptops really do look identical - maybe OLPC could encourage owners to attach stickers and decals to increase personalization and differentiation.

I think kids personalizing their laptops with stickers will be a great way for them to assert ownership, differentiate, and personalize... maybe even fetishize their laptop.

Another added benefit of this practice would be to actually devalue the resell value of the laptops, while leaving them functionally identical. From what I understand, purposefully lowering their perceived resale value would be great for the laptops.

Think about it. An assortment of fun stickers, from the One Encyclopedia Per Child say, could be shipped with One Laptop Per Child computers. Or as Jonah follows up with:
Yeah, but stickers are fun ;-) dinosaur laptops, heart laptops, glitter laptops, music bands, social movements, seems like an easy win.

Sure it doesn't solve the security issue in an ironclad way, but neither does the stigma of carrying around a kid's toy. Really what this is partially about is the psychological willingness to treat this like a personal possession, instead of a sacred object. Like a well-worn baseball glove, that is lovingly broken in.

How true is that - it hard to steal a treasured & personalized baseball glove, especially if you live in a small town where everyone knows you have the glove with glitter. Or as Xavier Alvarez explains:
olpc stickers
OLPC already has t-shirts
I remember talking about a similar issue but in the urban planning domain dealing with state financed housing projects and similar.

The bottom line was that urban planners could tell the general health of a project by the level of 'appropriation' done on the houses. They didn't need to enter the houses, the external appearance would provide plenty information.

Only when people changed the 'pristine' facade of their dwellings was a sign that the community thrived. Investing time and resources to change the color of doors, blinds and other external fixtures of the houses was a sign that a community building process was taking place.

The community was adapting their environment to their liking, not someone else's. They were building *their* neighbourhood.

And isn't that a goal of One Laptop Per Child: One Educational Neighbourhood Per Country? A neighbourhood of personalized spaces - physical and electronic - where children have ownership, have control, have a personalized theft-proof educational tool.

Covered in stickers!

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4 Comments

My laptop has a label from my favorite beer stuck to the palmrest. Stickers on laptops are a common phenomenon in the western world.

I can picture MS and Intel ratcheting up production of "intel inside" and "Vista ready" stickers as we speak...

The laptop personalization, including in the sugar interface is largely based on that dual color combination. This might seems a simple good idea but it falls into one trap: the assumption that all colors are equal.

Colors have a meaning, and color combinations do too. In brazil for example, where "what soccer team you are?" is one of the foremost social defining charateristic, most of the kids will be choosing to personalize the same black and red at their icons (the symbol of the most popular soccer league) and will not be satisfied with randomly receiveing the wrong color.

Some colors have even a dangerous meaning: in some gang controlled "favelas" of rio de janeiro, wearing red in the wrong day (from "red comando" a proeminent gang) might be the difference between acceptance and death.

As I mentioned in that original email some big corporations have latched onto the "stickiness" that play can impart -

http://www.lokisnake.com/blog/2005/10/23/miniusa-uaom/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/280657481/

It's funny - I am out at SXSW now, and registrants all got a sheet of "mikons" to attach to their badges -

http://www.mikons.com/connect/?search=sxswi&in=mikons

so most eventually looked something like this -
http://flickr.com/photos/swirlspice/417237105/

enjoy,
/jsb

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