OLPC Hacks: XO Laptop Spy Camera or Motion Detector

   
   
   
   
   
caffeinated coding
Motion detection spy cam

Let's say you have an XO laptop from One Laptop Per Child. And you want to record events in your surrounding environment. Activity that may occur when you're not around. How could you make the XO laptop a remote sensing device?

First we have an interesting hack by Edward Robinson that turns the X0 laptop into a spy camera:

After jumping onto the #OLPC freenode irc room and asking them a few questions I was quickly able to write this python program.Set it up as a cron job and upload pictures from outside my apartment window every hour.
But what if you want your XO Spy Cam to be motion activated, not time lapse photography? Then you need to use the motion detection settings by Quozl. While not as pretty as Edward's time-based system, you do have the option of viewing the results from afar if you:
access the webcam view in a web browser, using a URL composed from the IP address or host name, followed by port 8081, for example http://example-xo-1.laptop.org:8081/
Either way, this is a cool new use for the XO and bound to open up all kinds of learning across the globe.

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27 Comments

Wayan wrote:

"Either way, this is a cool new use for the XO and bound to open up all kinds of learning across the globe."

Whenever i read things like this, I get the feeling that, deep down, OLPC supporters are convinced that the XO's capabilities and educational promise are so severely compromised that these exaggerations are necessary.

If turning the XO into this contrived "spy/motion detector" device can "open up all kinds of learning across the globe", then imagine what could be done with a real, fully-functional laptop? However, nobody is making these crazy claims about the educational potential of MacBooks, for example.

I honestly feel that the time for hype and geeky fantasizing ("I'll make my XO do something odd and useless to impress my fellow geeks!") is over. The OLPC Project needs real solutions to real educational problems - that was the original mission, if I'm not mistaken.

It's time to start working on creating the classroom implementation plan/platform that will give potential clients a reason to buy and the OLPC Project a chance to succeed.

@Irvin:
"It's time to start working on creating the classroom implementation plan/platform that will give potential clients a reason to buy and the OLPC Project a chance to succeed."

This misunderstanding has been advanced and advocated for as long as I can remember. Not only by Irvin. There seems to be an obsession for locking up education into the classroom.

That might work in the USA or EU, sort of. It doesn't work in Japan (where children seem to spend more time learning outside their schools proper) and absolutely not in the developing world where there simple are not enough teachers, classrooms and schools.

But who said that the main educational importance of the XO/OLPC is in Classroom use?

The OLPC never suggested that. And all "Constructionist" theories are about what students can do when they are NOT taught by a teacher.

There have been a lot of studies about the successful use of computers in education. Few, if any, were about the use of computers during classroom teaching. And that would also be the most illogical use. Except for ebooks, demonstrations, and note taking, in a classroom teachers should teach and students discourse with the teacher.

You don't read books in the classroom with a teacher sitting in front? It would be quite a waste of teacher time. Why should the children sit in front of a screen doing things they dont need a teacher for?

There must be activities supplied for the time when there are no teachers and no classrooms available. THAT was the main problem the OLPC tried to solve.

And cameras, motion detectors, microphones, lab-in-XO, etc are all parts of the foundation on which such activities are build. Time lapse cameras/motion detector triggers/any movies are things that were badly missed in my own science teaching.

Winter

Winter wrote:

"This misunderstanding has been advanced and advocated for as long as I can remember. Not only by Irvin. There seems to be an obsession for locking up education into the classroom."

For better or worse (I strongly suspect for better) most sane & reasonable people tend to see a very good connection between education and the classroom. The reason is, I fear, that the classroom is the place where children get most (not all, of course) of their education and the place where this education can be reliably measured and managed by experts on the subject.

It will be very tough to sell potential buyers on the idea that mere possession of the XO will result in an effective education. Few people subscribe to such notions, as you point out.

Irvin wrote, "If turning the XO into this contrived "spy/motion detector" device can "open up all kinds of learning across the globe", then imagine what could be done with a real, fully-functional laptop? However, nobody is making these crazy claims about the educational potential of MacBooks, for example."

Nobody is expecting MacBooks or other full-sized laptops to survive on limited or unreliable electricity, be readable in direct sunlight, withstand environments where dust storms or monsoons are part of everyday life, or be portable by CHILDREN who carry them between home and school or with them to other daily activities.

Kids can do something with an XO that a) they couldn't have done without an XO and b) *in the target markets the XO was designed for*, they wouldn't be able to use most standard laptops to accomplish these things, either. Why is this cause for complaint?

When I was in high school (in the stone age, lol) there was a biology experiment going on at my friends' high school. They were following the development of fertilized chicken eggs. Well, for the first time in the history of that annual biology project, one of the eggs survived long enough to actually HATCH. The nun in charge of the science lab had quite a job keeping the whole student body from stampeding in to see the chick. :) How great would it have been in 1980/81 if there had been the ability to use time-lapse photography, a motion-detecting camera, or a webcam to keep everyone apprised on how the little chick was doing? Of course, at that time there was no web and the photography equipment would have been prohibitively expensive.

Fast-forward to today: an affordable piece of equipment now exists that can be used to record the progress of a hatching chick, of a building being constructed, of a seedling sprouting,of a farmer's field growing, of a tree's changes as its leaves sprout in the spring or turn colors and fall off in autumn. And once those photos are taken, they can be used EVERY year for each grade coming in. They can also be shared online for other students in other schools to make use of in THEIR lessons.

So now we have a couple more interesting ways to make use of an XO. Kids in developing countries, as well as G1G1ers (adults and kids alike) will surely find ways to use this as learning tool. I repeat, how can this be perceived as a negative thing? How is it anything other than an asset for the OLPC Project and the kids whose schools are taking part in it?

Irvin wrote, ".. However, nobody is making these crazy claims about the educational potential of MacBooks, for example."

http://www.apple.com/education/k12/
Not macbooks, per se, but I'm sure they won't send your check back.

@Irvin:
"For better or worse (I strongly suspect for better) most sane & reasonable people tend to see a very good connection between education and the classroom."

Sorry, but you might benefit from reading again about the start of the OLPC.

The OLPC is NOT about helping rich children in the West who spend most of their days in school with a qualified teacher for every group of 25-30 children. This is about children who spend at most half this time inside classrooms with 50-70 children and inadequately-trained teachers. Often without teaching materials.

Reading Ivan Krstić' talks would also help:
http://www.olpctalks.com/ivan_krsti/ivan_krstic_at_google.html

The short point is simple, in the developing world there is not enough time in the classroom to receive a complete eduation. No amount of wishful thinking (more and better teachers and schools) will change that. The OLPC is for allowing children to make most of the time inside the classroom (ebooks, demonstrations, notes) but most of all to allow to learn OUTSIDE the classroom (email, IM, VoIP, collaboration, etc.).

It is OUTside of the classroom that most gains can be made. The children simply spend too little time inside over-crowded classrooms for any IT to matter too much. Or it should be that teachers can divide the group into children that can work independedly on a laptop and children that need her personal attention.

In a productivity sense, teachers must spend their time wisely INside the classroom, and children should spend their time productively both IN- and OUTside the classroom.

Restricting education to "classroom only" is giving up on those children who spend less than half of the required time in inadequate classrooms. Which is around 900 million children in the world.

Winter

Irvin,

You suggest that "the classroom is the place where children get most of their education" however when I was at university my lecturers would often note that the vast majority of learning takes place outside the lecture theatre, with the quoted level of input from lectures being about 5%.

No one is suggesting that we get rid of teachers or classroom learning, simply that it and learning outside the classroom can be enhanced with an XO.

Once again, I must remind everyone that mere possession of a laptop does not automatically result in kids getting an education.

The OLPC needs to develop a coherent educational strategy beyond the loosely formulated "collaboration" plan that tries to pass off as an answer for the question of how this device will help children get a better education.

It can be safely said that the current proposed implementation has not been very convincing. To the point that Prof. Negroponte has been forced to rush into:

1. Selling the laptops to everyone and anyone that can bring some money (G1G1 program)
2. Running the pilot projects he claimed were not necessary
3. Forging alliances with the very same people (Intel) he claimed were out to destroy his project
4. Trying to attract attention in the non-geek world by promising Windows on the XO
5. Etc., etc.

The OLPC will not stand a chance until the need for an educational implementation strategy is fully recognized. One that does not rely on vague promises of wonderful things happening to children by virtue of being in contact with a laptop. One that goes beyond a few useless assorted applications hastily developed by (well meaning) people who have no understanding of education or what it is like to train and work as an educator (yes, teachers actually go to college in order to become professional educators - it's not something you can pick up in a weekend on the internet).

You can't impersonate a teacher anymore than you can impersonate a physician or an engineer. Education is a serious matter to serious people. Education is far more than handing children a gadget, closing your eyes and hoping for the best.

When the OLPC leadership accepts this self-evident truth, the missing orders may appear. Until then, governments are best advised to use their education dollars on more promising strategies.

@Irvin:
"You can't impersonate a teacher anymore than you can impersonate a physician or an engineer. Education is a serious matter to serious people. Education is far more than handing children a gadget, closing your eyes and hoping for the best."

You are mixing up many things. People were responding to your comment about "creating the classroom implementation plan/platform". Which seems to limit the scope of education to the Classroom. I am glad to see we agree on the importance of a more global strategy that puts the correct weight to extra-classroom activities.

If you switch to "The OLPC needs to develop a coherent educational strategy", we are in Constructivists teritory. And then the OLPC HAS a coherent educational strategy which tries to compensate for a chronic shortage of trained teachers.

The OLPC has started a lot of initiatives to help children, parents, teachers, countries, and volunteers to create their own environment. Which is indeed a "coherent educational strategy". Just not one you subscribe to.

The time lapse/motion detector that incited your initial comment is all but a very small contribution to this Constructivist strategy.

Your example of physicians is very apt. These communities generally have a severe lack of trained physicians. The solution to that has been to train locals as "nurses" and to let them communicate with trained doctors in central locations. The XO can help here too, btw.

http://www.olpcnews.com/use_cases/community/medical_application_community.html

Winter

Winter wrote:

"If you switch to "The OLPC needs to develop a coherent educational strategy", we are in Constructivists teritory. And then the OLPC HAS a coherent educational strategy which tries to compensate for a chronic shortage of trained teachers. "

Constructivism is much more complex than handing a laptop to kids.

Prof. Negroponte has repeatedly used the word "Constructivism" and the name Papert (and others) to justify the lack of a coherent implementation strategy. Fortunately, he is not fooling many people.

Your statement (above) is perfect example of the suspect reasoning offered for the lack of said strategy. When everything is said and done, what Prof. Negroponte and his followers propose amounts to: "just give it to kids; good things will happen, trust me".

The world does not agree that Prof. Negroponte's position is of merit. That's why the product has gathered a lot of interest, but very few actual orders: on close inspection, the Constructivist smoke-and-mirrors charade doesn't stand up to intelligent scrutiny.

Sounds harsh, but it is true.

@Irvin:
"Your statement (above) is perfect example of the suspect reasoning offered for the lack of said strategy. When everything is said and done, what Prof. Negroponte and his followers propose amounts to: "just give it to kids; good things will happen, trust me"."

I was thinking of the work of Alan Kay and the Our Stories project
http://www.ourstories.org/

The fact that you don't seem to see constructivism outside the classroom as a viable option doesn't mean others can't see it though.


Winter

Winter wrote:

"I was thinking of the work of Alan Kay and the Our Stories project
http://www.ourstories.org/

The fact that you don't seem to see constructivism outside the classroom as a viable option doesn't mean others can't see it though."

The link you provide actually proves my point: there is an evident lack of educational planning coming from the OLPC.

If that website is supposed to embody Constructivism, we probably need to re-define what Constructivism is. As I have expressed before, it is obvious that the "constructivism" angle is the perfect excuse for the lack of a coherent implementation plan. Whenever somebody asks for it, the standard answer is: "We love Papert, we love his work and we are committed to constructivism; we love Alan Kay, too!". The proof? that little website (or some other silly link) that has nothing to do with an implementation plan for the XO!


It will take far more than that to convince people that there is value in your proposition.

I'd even venture the theory that providing this type of "proof" actually WEAKENS your position, as people can actually see that the project is rich on vague promises, but rather poor on actual delivery of concrete solutions to the educational problems it pretends to solve.

I'd like to add that my perspective is shared by the overwhelming majority of people in the world. How do I know that?

Because nobody is rushing to buy into Prof. Negroponte's dream. There must be a reason for it, don't you think?

Irvin, this does open to educational possibilities which wouldn't be possible on macbook air or other more conventional laptops, because as you know it, macbook air wouldn't survive too long outdoors, in humid/dry or hot/cold environments, and its battery wouldn't last much as well. I imagine that when motion-detecting is added or created as a new Activity, it could be used by kids to study the behavior of animals in their region, and is a good example of how ingenious it was to make the laptop small and tough.

"Once again, I must remind everyone that mere possession of a laptop does not automatically result in kids getting an education." - Irvin

It gives them a tool that allows them to learn more efficiently. It doesn't mean everyone will take advantage of the opportunity, but many will.

The point is that a child with an XO is probably going to do rather better than a child without, and some will do very much better indeed.

If you want to create a comprehensive plan to integrate the XO into each education system I'm sure there would be many people who would find that useful, however the lack of such a plan does not render the XO worthless - just possibly less useful than it has the potential to be.

----------------------------------------------------

"I'd like to add that my perspective is shared by the overwhelming majority of people in the world. How do I know that?

Because nobody is rushing to buy into Prof. Negroponte's dream. There must be a reason for it, don't you think?" - Irvin

Because everyone immediately recognises a good idea when it emerges, right? Which is why the take up of revolutionary and good ideas always happens so quickly, yes?

Just out of interest, what level of take up would qualify it as a success in your view? Most people?

Obviously "overwhelming majority of people in the world" either think it's rubbish, haven't heard of it or like it but haven't bought one yet - any idea which one? No, neither have I and nor has anyone else, which is why your statement is evidence of absolutely nothing.

Justin wrote:
"The point is that a child with an XO is probably going to do rather better than a child without, and some will do very much better indeed."


The key word there is 'probably'. As in "I have a feeling that's what will happen". That means that:

1. Nobody knows if the XO will deliver on the promise of bringing meaningful improvement to children's education.
2. Most nations will not invest millions of dollars on a hunch that "everything will be ok".

It is obvious that pilot projects and a comprehensive implementation plan would have been very useful in showing prospective buyers the actual benefit of children owning and using the XO.


Justin wrote:
"If you want to create a comprehensive plan to integrate the XO into each education system I'm sure there would be many people who would find that useful, however the lack of such a plan does not render the XO worthless - just possibly less useful than it has the potential to be."

I agree. The only problem, then, is that the XO lacking an implementation plan is not necessarily worthless, but it is not worth buying, either. That's the problem right now: people find the OLPC Project very interesting, but not enough to risk their education dollars.


Justin wrote:
"Because everyone immediately recognises a good idea when it emerges, right? Which is why the take up of revolutionary and good ideas always happens so quickly, yes?"

The problem for OLPC is not really how quickly people recognizes a good or bad idea. The problem is that people don't want to buy the XO in the numbers that the OLPC leadership anticipated. Prof. Negroponte has gone from minimum orders of 1 million per country to orders of 1 XO per donor. Such drastic change in policy clearly reflects the project's difficulties in generating meaningful sales numbers.


justin wrote:
"Just out of interest, what level of take up would qualify it as a success in your view? Most people?"

I think that "success" in this case would be sales in the numbers (or somewhat close to the numbers) anticipated by the OLPC leadership. As we know, things are very different.


Justin wrote:
"Obviously "overwhelming majority of people in the world" either think it's rubbish, haven't heard of it or like it but haven't bought one yet - any idea which one? No, neither have I and nor has anyone else, which is why your statement is evidence of absolutely nothing."

You have just rephrased my question: how come nobody is buying?
The only evidence we have is that the anticipated sales in the millions have not materialized. Once again, the question is: why?

Thank you for your input.

@Irvin & comprehensive education plan

Some basic economics.
- Economic development in the third world is hampered, even blocked, by a chronic skills shortage.
- People are often poor due to a lack of education.
- Education is bad mostly due to a chronic teacher shortage.
- Teachers are in short supply because becoming a teacher is mostly a bad career move (for obvious economic reasons)
- Five decades of trying have shown no way out of the worldwide teacher shortage

Conclusion: any solution to the educational problems that increases the burden on the teachers is bound to fail.

Solution: A way to improve education without increasing the burden on the teachers.

The OLPC offers such a solution. Introducing the laptops can be done (largely) without burdening teachers. This solution is based mostly on supplying tools for communication and information and, most importantly, on collaboration. It is ideal for peer tutoring, e-books, and learning-at-a-distance. It also supplies a lot of missing learning and teaching materials like paper and books.

You want proof? Go to:
http://www.infodev.org/ict4edu-evaluation-resources
There are more studies here on the effects of IT on education than you probably will ever need.
Furthermore, in the whole of human history, better communication has always resulted in more economic growth.

If the teachers don't use the laptops, the children will, and education will not be the worse for it. The children are most of the time outside the reach of the teachers anyway. So they will spend much more time with their laptop than with their teacher. Classroom lesson programs can only have a limited effect, especially in the crowded conditions in most of the developing world.

As the laptop is a good toy and IM communicator in one, experience with Western kids shows us that the children will use it often. The XO has a lot of tools that are useful in the adult world, so it will help the children and their families.

On the other hand, your call for a comprehensive educational program increases the burden on the teachers and runs the risk of worsening education (such plans always do). The teachers have to be re-trained in the program. The program has to be localized to the situation of the school etc.

There is really absolutely no way that even a perfect educational program can be implemented that way. Especially if you lock education into the crowded classrooms like you seem to advocate.

If you insist that only a completely new educational program can help, please inform us how you would like to implement that. I really cannot see a way to do it. Otherwise, it is just an excuse to kill off the OLPC and, to say it bluntly, let the children rot.

@Irvin:
"You have just rephrased my question: how come nobody is buying?
The only evidence we have is that the anticipated sales in the millions have not materialized. Once again, the question is: why?"

Uganda reduced their distribution of condoms, was that because condoms are bad for Uganda? (or because the USA offered them lots of money to abstain)

Africa as a whole buys loads of assault riffles, so assault riffles are good for Africans?

It is a good question to ask Why countries didn't buy millions of XOs. But the conclusion does not HAVE to be that the XO is no good.

@Irvin contra Negroponte:
Irvin, if you cannot see beyond mr Negroponte's PR, I really pity you.
If you cannot go beyond your personal dislike of him, I pity you even more.
(one day you might tell us why you hate him so much, from your first post on OLPCnews in 2006)

Winter

@Winter

I'll make mine short: there is no evidence that mere possession of a laptop can produce the results you anticipate.

The pilot projects - now being created as a "desperado" move to salvage the project - and implementation plan are necessary in order to convince people that the announced goals are attainable. Until then, it's just the amusing ramblings of a febrile mind - geek utopia with an obscene price tag.

And no, I don't hate Prof. Negroponte. He even strikes me as somewhat naive, rather than bad. He is just a well-intentioned person with a shaky proposition that nobody seems to find attractive. Why?

It's very easy to accuse me of being a bad boy, of hating Prof. Negroponte, of hating children. Hey, perhaps I told Cain to kill Abel, too. I'm a bad guy. Whatever. :-)

Now, how come the entire world is "bad" like me? How come the entire world doesn't buy into the dream, either?

That's the real question...

Irvin wrote, "Once again, I must remind everyone that mere possession of a laptop does not automatically result in kids getting an education."

True. Mere possession of TEXTBOOKS doesn't automatically result in a good education for kids, either. The books could be outdated, the lesson plan might not make the best possible use of said books, etc. Or the school system itself could be a war zone, literally or figuratively, creating a situation that's has kids learning in spite of, rather than because of, what's going on around them.

The XO can't, and isn't intended to, resolve every ill in every educational system on the planet. It's just meant to be an additional resource, and it's been targeted at the school systems in developing countries where resources are especially scarce. In a place where kids skip school when they can't afford pencil and paper, having a paperless way to do their homework and take their notes is a step in the right direction. In a place where there aren't enough books for all the students, ebooks being distributed via XO are a way to resolve that issue. In a world where being on the wrong side of the Digital Divide could be a huge obstacle to getting a job that pays a living wage, XOs will expose a lot of students to technology that they might never have had the opportunity to work with otherwise.

Irvin wrote "The OLPC needs to develop a coherent educational strategy beyond the loosely formulated 'collaboration' plan that tries to pass off as an answer for the question of how this device will help children get a better education."

Might I ask why OLPC is being charged with this task? Do textbook companies get held responsible for the educational strategies of the school systems that use their books? At what point do the education systems themselves have to take up the task of designing a curriculum that's tailored for their own students' needs?

OLPC can't devise *A* strategy that will fit every developing country's school system. That's presuming that a one-size-fits-all solution exists, and I don't believe that's possible. At some point, motivated people from each of those school systems have to assume the responsibility of seeing that this viable tool is used in the way that suits THEIR students' needs best.

Speaking of which, here is a discussion thread on the OLPCNews forums, about a program that's in progress in Haiti.

http://olpcnews.com/forum/index.php?topic=1991.msg16734#msg16734

Here is the quote from the post referenced above that inspired me to share it: [[For those that have wondered, we're going it alone in Haiti, with none of the laptops donated by OLPC's G1G1 program going to Mercy & Sharing. Our goal is to raise $250,000 to purchase one thousand laptops and train enough mentors and teachers to really engage the kids and get them excited about education.]]

These are private citizens raising money to purchase laptops AND TRAIN MENTORS AND TEACHERS. Private citizens. Not OLPC. There comes a time when the people in every community who are interested in their own education system have got to step up. And when they do, they'll do a better job of meeting their own students' needs than some outside company, because they know their own community's needs better than anyone else.

BTW, might I ask how a discussion on using XOs as motion detection devices ever got hijacked this far off the original topic? WOW, what a digression.

The thread was hijacked, yet again, because you are all far too polite to ignore Irvin's continuous trolling on this forum. The time lapse photography ability opens up a vast swathe of educational abilities to all but the most closed minded of people, your example with the hatching chick was great and i'm sure we can all think of many more too.

Kudos to Edward Robinson.

Donna wrote:

"Mere possession of TEXTBOOKS doesn't automatically result in a good education for kids, either."

True. The difference is that textbooks are just another tool in the classroom. They are meant to be used by students and teachers and they follow the curriculum. Textbooks are part of an educational platform. There is no clear way of integrating the XO into the classroom. That's why there is a need for an implementation plan beyond the "trust me" claims.


"The XO can't, and isn't intended to, resolve every ill in every educational system on the planet. It's just meant to be an additional resource, and it's been targeted at the school systems in developing countries where resources are especially scarce."

True.

"In a place where kids skip school when they can't afford pencil and paper, having a paperless way to do their homework and take their notes is a step in the right direction."

A country that can't afford paper and pencils has no business giving kids a laptop, quite frankly.

"In a place where there aren't enough books for all the students, ebooks being distributed via XO are a way to resolve that issue."

The problem is that somebody needs to create those "ebooks" that will replace the textbooks. It is a long, expensive and complicated process. Prospective buyers neeed to take this crucial fact into consideration, don't you think?


"In a world where being on the wrong side of the Digital Divide could be a huge obstacle to getting a job that pays a living wage, XOs will expose a lot of students to technology that they might never have had the opportunity to work with otherwise."

Let's not get too carried away with ridiculous statements. The skills that elementary school kids can get with an XO they could get in a couple of weeks at any point in their life. And whatever those skills are will not be enough for them to get a meaningful job. Real opportunities come with a complete, real education.

"The OLPC needs to develop a coherent educational strategy - Might I ask why OLPC is being charged with this task?"

Because the XO, as you said previously, is just another tool. So, it stands to reason that the entity selling this tool must provide prospective buyers with the evidence that the buyer will actually derive benefit from the acquisition.

"Do textbook companies get held responsible for the educational strategies of the school systems that use their books?"

No, but there is a very important requirement for them: their products MUST conform to the educational platform/curriculum in place.

"At what point do the education systems themselves have to take up the task of designing a curriculum that's tailored for their own students' needs?"

Education systems do that. After they do that, they go and acquire those tools that fit their strategy. There is no evidence that the XO can do that. Remember: nobody is asking that OLPC design the curriculum. All that prospective buyers expect is for the OLPC leadership to show them a way to INTEGRATE the XO into their classroom (in other words: how are kids supposed to use it to improve their education?)

"OLPC can't devise *A* strategy that will fit every developing country's school system. That's presuming that a one-size-fits-all solution exists, and I don't believe that's possible."

True. That's perhaps the reason that computers have not been very effective in education. OLPC promises to change that, but there is no evidence that the promise can be delivered. that's why the pilot projects are necessary.

"At some point, motivated people from each of those school systems have to assume the responsibility of seeing that this viable tool is used in the way that suits THEIR students' needs best."

They want to feel confident that their money is not being wasted, so they remain cautious until they get more info on how useful this tool actually is. I find that position very smart and reasonable. Poor people (the target maket, as you point out) can't affor to waste their precious and scarce education dollars on unproven technology.

The XO may very well turn out to be all that it promises to be. As of today, it remains a very interesting, unproven idea. Perhaps goverments are best advised to let the current pilot projects take place so that the actual benefits can be objectively determined. In the meantime, advances in computing hardware will bring cheaper, better computers. Mary Lou Jepsen is working on a $75 laptop that promises to be much better than the XO. Why not kill two birds with one stone? Wait for the pilot projects to clear the dust and (IF it turns out that there are documented benefits) get a much better piece of hardwarew for 1/3 of the price. Seems like a win-win situation to me...

@Andy:
"The thread was hijacked, yet again, because you are all far too polite to ignore Irvin's continuous trolling on this forum."

I must appologize for having again contributed to this hijacking. I won't do it again.

Those who don't believe Andy's evaluation should search OLPCnews with
"Posted by: irvin"
(include quotes and Upper-lowercase)
Then ask yourself the question: Why is s/he spending so much time on OLPCnews?

Winter

"Then ask yourself the question: Why is s/he spending so much time on OLPCnews?"

Because he is not a loser who has drunk the Constructionist KoolAid

Thera,

It's nice to throw a little abuse into the discussion, but I think Winter's point was that, for someone who doesn't think the project has much value, he spends a lot of time discussing it and posting off topic.

I would actually be interested to hear Irvin's views, just not blasted into the middle of every thread.

Irvin - why don't you put together a paper outlining your thesis and including all the relevant evidence and get Wayan to put it up on OLPCnews for everyone to read and comment on.

This would seem to be more productive than everyone simply restating their views and having the same old argument on every thread.

Thoughts?

Justin requests:

"Irvin - why don't you put together a paper outlining your thesis and including all the relevant evidence and get Wayan to put it up on OLPCnews for everyone to read and comment on?"

Justin,

I think my views are very well known, having been expressed with clarity and without personal agendas (pro or against OLPC). If you have enough interest in what I have to say, you can always do a site search for my posts, as Winter suggests.

This thread is a perfect example of how I communicate my ideas, having responded to all relevant or interesting posts (including yours). It is now up to every visitor to examine all arguments and draw their own conclusions.

As for submitting some material for publication, I think that others have more interesting ideas and much better writing skills. The stage belongs to them; I'll remain an interested and impartial observer for now.

As always, thank you for your input.

@Thera: Yes, that's a pretty accurate description, I'd say :-)

Irvin your demagoguery is only that. A rant, however cogently delivered to give it specious respectability, is still a rant. It really is self-evident that setting a gizmo in front of a kid with no plan for it's use does not lead to a qualified education, but I don't believe that developing that plan is the domain of the OLPC project. Educational application is up to the purchasers of the laptop. You may as appropriately note that a western textbook does not confer knowledge by osmosis. The text still must be presented by a teacher in the context of a lesson. Similarly, the OLPC will need to be given a culturally and educationally specific context in order to see it's best use. The OLPC project had a dream to provide these poor students with an unprecedented capability to extend their meagre classrooms and leverage the small amount of formal education they receive. So what's your frigging point? I think you're deliberately misunderstanding the project goals in order to make yourself look clever on a web forum. In my work, leading large technical teams in the development of the world's most complex financial software, I often come across seemingly clever people with a similar approach to new ideas. While they much more rarely offer their own new ideas, they attempt to appear adept by poking holes (some real, some fabricated) in others' work. It's counterproductive and discourages thinkers from presenting new work. That's a weak way to build yourself up and I don't stand for it in my teams. The rule is, you don't get to piss on somebody's idea unless you have an alternative to present. I will hold you to the same simple standard. Instead of pissing on the OLPC project for not doing something that has never been part of it's mandate (developing educational plans), why don't you present an actual alternative - and not the vague, hand-waving ideas you've shown so far. Your position is neither disinterested, nor impartial. You've been invited to present your ideas formally, and like a typically intellectually weak and dishonest troll you've declined to step up. Rather than listen to the genuine responses to your troublesome posts, you've instead chosen to deconstruct them on a point by point basis as if this was an argument to win, rather than an honest discussion. You've removed yourself from the normal bounds of true debate, so I feel no chagrin at stooping to what is normally the lowest form of communication: name-calling. You, Irwin, are a knob. A facile knob, but a knob nonetheless. Perhaps I'll reconsider should you choose to add something to the world, rather than just tear down, but until then, you've been branded and shall be recognized thus: KNOB.

Michael wrote:

"In my work, leading large technical teams in the development of the world's most complex financial software..."

Yeah, sure...

:-)

Irvin, this is my first visit to this forum. I would plead with you to not hijack threads like this. The issues you and others would like to discuss are interesting ones, but have only the most tangential relationship to motion-based snapshots, and reduce the value of the forum to others.

If you are seriously interested in affecting the direction of the OLPC project, then please write up an article (or several of them) and post them properly, having threaded discussion there. I'm sure I'll read those with interest. Or heck, even start your own forum. But stop hijacking barely-related threads to serve your own particular interests.

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