Now that Children's Machine XO-1 test laptops are on their way to Argentina and Brazil, but we are still ISO an OLPC implementation plan it's interesting to think of how the One Laptop Per Child computers could be used outside the classroom.
Reading Ethan Zuckerman's review of the OLPC XO, I was struck by his "eureka!" moment:
The "eureka" moment for me came when I hit one of the icons and suddenly found myself staring into my own face. The machine has a pinhole video camera for videoconferencing - SJ reports that video has been so popular with early users that the team is looking for ways to let students make and share short videos.Its no surprise that imaging, both video and still, is wildly popular across all socio-economic sectors. We can look to Flickr and YouTube for easy confirmation in the developed world.
But if you take this to the environments the OLPC is designed for, countries, communities, people who currently do not have the means or the ability to create digital content in mass numbers, countries where digital photo capture and printing are in high demand and one of the few profitable services in rural and poor areas, and I see great opportunity.
Imagine people setting up micro-businesses, digital photo booths where entrepreneurial OLPC-equipped students who invest in a color photo printer and serve as the community's photojournalists. Or where OLPC-equipped children serve as videographers at weddings, funerals, any life-changing event. Or kids just have fun taking videos and pictures of what's around them.
Now multiply that content by five million OLPC XOâ€™s in the first production run and YouTube or Flickr seem tiny, minuscule, only the beginning.
And then the OLPC implementation miracle doesn't seem so magical after all.