December 21, 2007

Unboxing: One Laptop Per Child


Surprising absolutely no one, the One Laptop Per Child folks' Give One, Get One program was extended through Dec. 31. Which means you can still get a powerful, amazing-looking, kid-oriented computer for about $400 and give one to a child in a developing country at the same time.

Of course, to use one of the OLPC XO laptop's most impressive features, mesh networking, you'll need more than one. That's what longtime DT reader Craig figured, anyway, so they Gave Two, Bought Two. Keyboard for little hands, beautiful fit and finish, "ears," "it’s amazing how quickly our three-year-old son connected emotionally to it," he says. Check out their unboxing, meshing, and e-booking here.

Holy crap, there's a pink one? olpc unboxing [rayogram]
Give One, Get One extends through Dec. 31 []


We got one of these for my 18 month old. It arrived the other day. Yes, he's still a bit young, but it does have features that he is going to love. The built in camera, for one thing, as well as all the animal noises that it makes. And when he gets older, he can use it to learn to program.

our boy at 3.5 years (pictured at the link) loves the "record" activity. his current favorite, though, is the word processor.

he's most intrigued by the snake icon (on the python app). maybe he'll turn out to be a programmer afterall!

Is it just me or am I the only one that find's this more than a bit odd..."it’s amazing how quickly our three-year-old son connected emotionally to it". I believe that its true but is it appropriate for a 3 year old to be bonding with a machine. Granted, there are some toys out of the box our son adored but connected emotionally, what does that mean? Our 2 1/2 year old has had maybe 10 hours on the PC 100% of which was helping Elmo go to the potty. The kid is going to spend a far greater chunk of his life working with or on a pc of some ilk than mom or dad ever will (I went to college in 1987 with a typewriter) so why rush it.

We connect emotionally, as opposed to rationally, to objects. To some it might be a boyfriend's sweater, to some a teddy bear, to some Grandma's diamond ring. In special cases we connect rationally and emotionally (like my 1968 Triumph motorcycle).

Is the mere emotional connection to a thing troubling, or is it that we can't think of computers as anything but tools facilitating the drudgery of our daily toil? If it is the latter, that is an eloquent illustration of the failure of imagination (or more pessimistically, the success) of the twenty five year old personal computer industry.

My son has used his XO laptop so far to: write words and make text patterns on with the word processor, create original music with drag and drop tools (danceable, too!), record video and audio clips, and draw pictures.

In contemporary life all of these, as many other activities (watching TV, driving a car, cooking food) involve computers.

One of the things that the XO has done so well is not create a distinction between things we do for work and things we do for play. Write, draw, make music, dance. He's choosing to do all of these things because he apparently finds them enjoyable and enjoys the challenge. If he winds up doing any of these things someday as work I'll feel like I've succeeded as a parent.

I'd much rather have him enjoy these activities than embrace, say, Elmo, which is doing nothing as much as whetting an appetite for watching more television.

I got play with an XO yesterday at a Linux users group meeting. I wish my kids were younger so I could justify the purchase! It's an amazing computer. All the dads at the meeting yesterday made an instant emotional connection with the XO too.

[nail, head. -ed.]

After reading Craig's reply to my comment I see his point a bit better now and the critique that he offered, "I'd much rather have him enjoy these activities than embrace, say, Elmo, which is doing nothing as much as whetting an appetite for watching more television." is fair. To COD's point I still don't understand the emotional connection. It’s probably just my perspective that I share with my wife. I could juxtapose the same conversation and go on about how my son "emotionally" responded to the experience of his first trip to see a baseball game. There are many people that would find that troubling but I may understand my child’s response as completely reasonable. The point isn't about a child's emotional attachment but more likely the parent’s perception of that attachment and if it fits in with his or her world view. A sentiment mentioned in this blog many times and one that I think of often.

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