An open letter to the One Laptop Per Child program

Dear OLPC:

I am almost certainly not alone in being interested in learning where (and more importantly, to whom) my donated laptop is shipped, and what the recipient winds up doing with it.

Accordingly, I urge you to provide for some way to connect OLPC donors with recipients, à la the Kiva microcredit program. With each machine having both a unique serial number and the inherent ability to connect with the net, I would imagine this would be technically trivial.

Surely this will help you tell the vastly more important human stories lying underneath the superficial narrative of technology transfer – which, in turn, can only motivate more people to give.

Very sincerely yours,
Adam Greenfield
NYC

10 responses to “An open letter to the One Laptop Per Child program”

  1. Virginia Murdoch says :

    I totally agree with the sentiment – if I’m able to participate in this program at some point myself, I’d really like to know who ends up with my matching pair – but I’d be freaked out if my OWN computer serial number and network connection were used as a way to contact me… I think there needs to be another method. Maybe a more general method of OLPC computers sharing their stories needs to be devised?

  2. Vidiot says :

    DEAR SIR OR MADAM

    I AM CONTACTING YOU TO THANK YOU FOR MY NEW LAPTOP. I AM ALSO WRITING TO INFORM YOU OF AN EXCITING OPPORTUNITY OF THE TEN MILLION DOLLARS (US$10000000) FROM NIGERIAN LOTTERY WHICH YOU HAVE WON. PLEASE SEND ME YOUR BANK ACCOUNT DETAILS AND I WILL FORWARD YOUR WINNINGS.

  3. Wayan @ OLPC News says :

    Adam,

    You have raised a very interesting OLPC application – one-to-one connections – that while not a new idea, you’ve expressed the best I’ve seen so far. Might you develop this thought a bit more as a Guest Post on OLPC News?

  4. wschenk says :

    I’m actually not that interested in where “my” laptop was sent. I don’t feel like I have any ownership to any specific piece of hardware. I’m sure the money goes into a big pot somewhere and then that’s sitting in a bank somewhere collecting interest and then they use that money towards costs, but the dollars are all mixed up.

    I’d rather know about the overall societal effects rather than taking the adopting-a-goat approach to it.

  5. speedbird says :

    I don’t at all think of it in terms of “ownership.”

    Instead, I think of the OLPC transaction as a simple opportunity to tell a human story and make a human connection – to undercut the false logic of distance both physical and cultural, and remind both parties that there may be very few degrees of seperation indeed between a (relatively) very wealthy and powerful American and a child in rural Ghana.

    To me, that’s the huge opportunity that’s inexplicably being missed here. This is not to say that I’m not interested in “overall societal effects.” Of course I am. But as a *contributor*, I’m also terribly interested in putting a name and a face and a story to this otherwise rather object-oriented transaction.

  6. Christopher Fahey says :

    Are you serious? They don’t even tell you anything about who got it?

    Skepticism increased.

  7. jeller3 says :

    Hi,
    I was talking to one of my friends about this this past Monday. He has made his contribution and now has his laptop. I need to learn more about this. Sounds interesting but having been in the computer industry since ’88 I am a skeptic.

    je3

  8. Mike W. says :

    I’m giving one/getting one too. But then, my part is done. The best support for the recipients might well come from schoolkids in the developed nations.

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. …My heart’s in Accra » links for 2007-11-20 - 20 November 2007
  2. Emily’s Playground - 11 February 2008

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