Tuesday, September 25, 2007

XO: My favorite little monster

Free Software Day, September 15, 2007. Across the room, across a sea of stiff blue stackable chairs, I spotted a grown-up man hunched over a small, white plastic monster. With green ears. And a hinge. I was absorbing a lot of information; copyright law jargon, clever t-shirts with indecipherable logos, and an implacable tension between users of Ubuntu Linux and users of some supposedly more-liberated Linux variant. It was a lot to take in. My senses were overwhelmed. So it took me about a minute and a half to register this white plastic monster, squeal, and loudly inquire: "What's that?!?"

"That" was the XO laptop, and I would have to agree with Nigerian President Obasanjo that this little gadget is completely enchanting. I mean, look at it:Not only is it cute; it's the $100 laptop. (Well, it's not $100 yet, because it has yet to enjoy economies of scale, but it will soon, and it's close enough for now.) And if my new favorite organization, One Laptop Per Child, gets their way, every kid on earth will eventually have an XO in his or her hands, ready to interact and communicate with each other and the world.

Starting November 12, as the banner above suggests, you'll be able to buy one laptop for a child in the developing world, and receive one yourself, to do with as you please—play with it, hack it, donate it, anything. (New York Times article here.) I'm all about simple, powerful, affordable tools; when people have a platform on which to realize their dreams, they tend to have more dreams, and I think this is doubly true for children—who, in the first place, deserve all the dreams they can find. I'm elated that this project has become a reality, and excited to be living in the thick of it, here in Cambridge. xo, XO.

[Update: since I am an unapologetic booster, but also have a conscience, I thought I'd point you to some snarky commentary, and for good measure, some kind-but-critical commentary.]

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