Sharing Our Stories Across an XO-Enabled Planet


When I first heard about the Our Stories project, where children with One Laptop Per Child computers can collect, preserve, and share online the stories of their cultures and communities, I thought the effort laudable, but not all that different from the many other culture-recording efforts.

First there would be a big hoopla over the site, and we'd all ready glowing stories form children, and then the whole thing would fade away as there would not be any direct feedback or support to the children submitting the stories.

Then I read the BBC's glowing OLPC review by a 9 year old. Listen to how Rufus Cellan-Jones was given an XO laptop and immediately met up with children from around the world:

But the real surprise came one evening, when Rufus asked me to explain what his friends were telling him on the laptop. I thought those imaginary childhood friends from years back must have returned. But I went and had a look - and it was true - he appeared to be chatting online. So how had he managed that?

"You go on "neighbourhood", then you go to the chat thing. You go on Nigeria and you chat to them."

But why, if he was online with the children at the Nigerian school I had visited, were they sending messages in Spanish? I decided he must be linking up with one of the South American schools taking part in the OLPC project but we still aren't sure quite how that is happening.

Now imagine children sharing their culture, their stories in real time, through OLPC video conferencing, these exchanges captured in the Sugarized journal and then uploaded to Our Stories' global repository for wider consumption and celebration.

Children sharing stories across an XO laptop-enabled planet.

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I have been thinking long and hard about the use of these machines as a war-stopping tool. I recently learned of the Liberian civil war and the issues with bringing American peace keeping forces in. As soon as Nigerian peace keepers arrived on the ground, there was never another shot fired.

If there was an OLPC Liberia, and the school children there had a voice in the international online community, would the US have waited so long to deploy peace keepers? Would there have been so many lives lost?

Is this a good thing (XO translates Hausa to Spanish) or a bad thing (XO allows masked chatting with children)?

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