One Laptop per Indigenous Australian Child?


Two's company, three's a mesh network!
On the surface of it, two of Fairfax Media's newspapers, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, appear to be reporting that Australia is trialling XO test machines with a view to signing a "Memorandum of Understanding" with OLPC. The headline, "Australia trials low-cost laptop" is perhaps a touch misleading. Although there are some laptops in Australia, this testing appears to be somewhat different to official OLPC tests reported to be starting in February. The article starts:
"The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project aims to put low-cost laptops into the hands of impoverished children in the developing world, but work is already underway to trial them among indigenous populations in Australia."
However, further reading suggests that real testing in Australia is a little way off as further XO machines are needed:
"Sharron Noske, deputy chief executive of planning and resources for the Northern Territory Department of Employment, Education and Training (DEET), said two samples were being tested to decide whether to go ahead with a trial program.

"DEET is keen to look at an extended pilot where a whole class of students use the laptops for an extended period - to establish the learning benefits and identify the associated teaching strategies and resources required," she said." starts Monday 15th January
Two laptops does not an XO trial make; full scale testing would rely on school servers, a functioning mesh network and boat loads of children. Also noticably lacking in the article is any official OLPC voice. Whether Fairfax Media are due a call from the heavy mob Nicholas Negroponte's office, a la the BBC's "Public can purchase $100 laptop" piece seems unlikely, but perhaps an announcement during Christopher Blizzard and Jim Gettys's imminent Australia trip (both are set to speak at next week) will help to set the record straight.

Despite this story's vague nature, it does raise an interesting question; would OLPC (or a foundation formed to distribute OLPCs) provide laptops to underprivileged communities in "developed" countries?

We recently reported on Ashley Morris's futile attempt to raise OLPC's interest in a New Orleans laptop project. Might the plight of indigenous Australian children be considered somewhat differently? A recent quote from Nicholas Negroponte suggests children in Australia's Northern Territory closely fit OLPC's target audience. According to Ars Technica, Negroponte said two days ago (emphasis mine):

Contrary to recent reports, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is not planning a consumer version of its current XO laptop, designed for the poorest and most remote children in the world.
Hmm... indigenous Australian children in Northern Territory...

Children? Check.
Poor? Check!
Remote? Check!!
Developing country? Not quite...

Despite not hitting one check box, will children in Northern Territory be wield the hottest education tool on the planet some day soon? If so, what about all the non-indigenous Australian children there? Might not such a plan hit problems if it discriminates on the basis of race? We'll have to wait and see.

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The word "indigenous" is incorrect,the word you require is "aborigine" . Everyone born in this country, Australia, is indigenous to this country, so an aborigine born outside of this country therefore would not be indigenous. I suspect very few would fit this criteria but it would apply.
Aborigine comes from the latin, "ab origine" meaning the "original" people which they were, even though they migrated fom S.E. Asia into an unpopulated country of Australia probably about 50,000 years ago. Indigenous means pertaining to or originating in that country, look up the words in the Oxford dictionary, the definitive english dictionary, forget using any other dictionary!
The proper word was used not to long ago but due to political correctness and stirring of aboriginal activists, the incorrect word has been adopted by the Australian government. So could you please use the correct word according to Oxford otherwise everytime I read "indigenous" I wonder why the writer is mentioning the white anglo saxon middleclass that was born in that country.

Tony, please don't take offence, there was none intended. I merely used the terminology used by the (Australian) press in the reported piece.

Being neither Australian, linguist nor lexicographer, I don't have much of value to add to the Aborigine/Indigenous/Native argument.

[deleted your double comment]

Keep in mind OLPC already has alot on their plate. They already have Rwanda, Libya, Brazil, etc. signed up for this year. They need those countries to be a success and that already is an absolute mountain of work for them. Getting involved in smaller populations like the city of New Orleans, aboriginal communities in Australia, the banlieues of Paris -- while all deserving communities -- could seriously overtax OLPC and risk the larger project. Remember these guys aren't a corporate behemoth, it's only 15 OLPC employees + miscellaneous Red Hat & AMD engineers + volunteers.

Still I'm a hypocrite, I hope they can make room for Nepal if we can convince the gov't to sign on.

Tony - Indigenous has a social meaning in Australia that it outside the normal definition (as with the word dag). Indigenous is used to replace the long description of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders. Even this long description does not apply to other remote communities who believe they belong to neither group.

Bryan - Australia also poses some distance issues, desert conditions and unique languages issues that may not exist in other locations. Can volunteers do anything to help? Lobby governments, etc?

scientaestubique - Great idea to lobby.

Well I am hoping greatly that we will (be able) join the trail program. This could help in the development of Australia, to be more technologically and educationally evolved.

Would be great to get those trail results! :)

I do not think it should be based on what community you are from but based on the points made before, "poorest and most remote children". Or the poorest remote child that is smart and wants to learn. I would go for the first choice but if money and/or numbers is a problem which it should not than the second choice.

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