OLPC Documentary: A Video of $100 Laptop Progress

olpc documentary
You are watching a OLPC XO video
What do you think about John Kintree's Open OPLC listserv call to action for the One Laptop Per Child community: a documentary that illustrates the capabilities of the XO computer
I would like to see such a production begin with children, in schools that have already received XO computers, demonstrating what they can do with them. This would include the mesh networking, dual-mode monitor, Sugar interface, and some of the networked activities.

Since the units that have already been distributed to children are the B2 builds, the documentary might conclude with a visit to MIT and demonstration of the enhanced capabilities of the B3 units, and a description of other design changes that might take place, such as the antenna, before mass production begins.

Now why might John have such an interest in OLPC video? Isn't there enough randomly scattered across the web or concentrated on the excellent OLPC.TV? Well, maybe John has a point with his rationale:
If sufficient orders from national departments of education have not been received at the time the documentary is produced, the documentary could help raise the orders, or be used as a fund raising tool.

I know that if an opportunity for individuals to purchase two XO computers, one of which the buyer would receive and the other being given to a child in a developing country, I would like to see a comprehensive documentary before placing my order.

Now what might Charbax, the vlogger behind OLPC.TV have to say about John's proposal? As you might expect, he totally agrees:
I agree, I've been pushing Walter Bender and Nicholas Negroponte over email for the past year every once in a while, cause I'd like more video content be published on http://olpc.tv From:
  • Filming of children using the laptops and teachers integrating them into the class
  • Engineers fixing bugs and working on new features
  • Mass production preparations in Taiwan and China
  • Nicholas Negroponte in certain countries talking to heads of state
  • More extensive coverage of every olpc event around the world
olpc documentary
Doing my OLPC documentary
While neither Charbax nor I can magically make any more OLPC XO videos appear, we are already doing our part to publicize OLPC world wide, we have collaborated to bring you more details on existing One Laptop Per Child documentaries. Starring on OLPC.TV are one, two, three, English transcriptions of the OLPC Uruguay videos from Ceibal, Uruguay thanks to the transcription/translation efforts of Alec McLure. There you can find gems like these:
Reporter: What I noticed this morning when visiting the Villa del Cardal school was that these computers are teaching children something foundational. They are teaching children to think, to reason, to search for knowledge

Father: They’ve shown an interest, particularly in taking care of the computer. They’ve shown an interest that frankly sometimes goes further than we can. At this point, they are actually teaching us.

Voiceover: Currently, connectivity is only available at school. That limitation, however, turned into a positive factor – children come back to school in the afternoon to surf the web. Another complication is that usage exceeds broadband bandwidth

Better yet, you can even participate directly in the OLPC documentary idea. OLPC Open listserv contributor Mel Chua has found a TV show tie-in for One Laptop Per Child:
olpc documentary
Need for YoYo speed!
The Design Squad TV show (think junkyard wars but with high school students) is interested in doing an episode with OLPC. This would kick off some professional documentary work on at least one aspect of the project (whatever the design squads work on), be great media exposure to a younger age group (and a good entry point for us to plug that students can get involved in making their own stuff for the XO), and generally just be cool.

The catch? We need to pitch project ideas to them to convince them to actually do the episode. From an email: "Basically the question everyone had about OLPC is what exactly could the teams make - and that it would be interesting to film and air...

And that is a challenge perfect for the OLPC News readership. Kids, put on your thinking caps, pointy caps, but not CAPS LOCK and send your ideas to Mel. Remember, these have to be visually compelling tasks that high schoolers can accomplish in a week, like say funky-fresh salad spinning OLPC yoyo string power XO laptop battery chargers.

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What is wrong with the link to the video preview?
It only takes me to a profy.com, and shows no pictures.

There is nothing wrong with the link to profy.com, its that site that seems to give a 404 error when you try to see the video on their site. Ask them why they have a broken link. I just thought the image cool & link to the image sources when I use an image.

A "buy-two-donate-one" movement would only make sense under the following conditions:

A) The movement can actually sell 3 million XOs so that the production can start and the prices do not exceed $175. And some countries agree to integrate the donated XOs into their education system. I.e. a sensible implementation plan is needed also in this scenario. However, I think this scenario is not realistic.

B) Prof. Negroponte publishes how many orders are missing for the 3 million. Then a fund raising maybe also as a 2-for-one-movement could try to sell the missing XOs.

What is not yet clear are what the reasons of countries were for not ordering. It might be that they do not want the XOs even for free. In such a case A) and B) would be useless unless other countries could be found that accept the donation of the XOs and are ready to carry the additional cost to provide the necessary infrastructure.

"What is not yet clear are what the reasons of countries were for not ordering."

I can't remember the last time anyone ordered 1,000,000 units of any product based on a not-fully-functional prototype:

1. Mesh Network Field Testing TBA.
2. Power Generation Solution TBD.
3. Mass Storage Solution TBD.
4. Final Energy Consumption Specs TBD.
5. Classroom Implementation TBD.
6. Total Cost of Ownership TBD.
7. Price Per Unit TBD.
8. Tech Support TBD.
9. School Server Availability TBD.

Then, there is the very normal fear of doing business with start-ups: what happens to the tech support, return policies and the laptop itself if OLPC folds after 1 or 2 years, for whatever the reason? It is the same fear that drives people to buy expensive products from mainstream merchants, instead of buying them from the little corner business that may or may not be there next month.

I'm hoping Dr. Negroponte can overcome the many obstacles, but it doesn't look good. I have followed his speeches for the last two years and there is this nagging feeling that the initial enthusiasm and confidence are not there. Perhaps it's time to ask his initial corporate backers to commit some money to launch the initial stage (to the tune of, say, 1 million units, or roughly 250 millions). I'm pretty sure that countries would be more willing to buy if they see a nice documentary that shows how the laptops are bringing benefits to kids in another country.

Mickey R. Duff (aka as Martin's)

I just produced a video Interview with Opera's CTO about the Open Standards of the OLPC:


Especially for video, the inclusion of Flash video plugin for the OLPC browser be it Gekko or Opera is not sure for now, since Flash requires licencing.

I'll be very glad to see more videos be produced of the OLPC. I'm not sure TV-style Documentary film making is the way to go. I think I would prefer much more effort being put into video-blogging style video journalism. Just take a camera and film long interviews, film long unedited reports from OLPC test schools, interview parents, teachers, open source programmers, mass production engineers and more.

I guess the videos should be released online in an open source format like Ogg Theora, so that the videos can actually be played on the OLPC hardware and software, but even Google Video or Youtube isn't yet in Ogg Theora neigther.