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Brazil interested, Thailand pulls out

The OLPC organization recently announced that it has received support from Brazil. The government of Brazil is requesting roughly 50 test units of the XO machine to see if it can be a tool worth deploying in schools and in areas with limited access to technology. As of right now, production on the XO machines have not yet started. The organization is still waiting for more significant orders to be placed before production can start.

Despite some positive progress for the OLPC project, Thailand announced this week that it is no longer interested in the OLPC project. According to reports from within Thailand, the overall impression of the XO is that it is more of a toy than a useful educational tool. However, Thailand isn't completing dismissing the concept of the OLPC, only the XO machine itself. The government made it clear that it plans to pursue its own course of action on how to develop a computer for children.

Interestingly, Thailand was one of the original countries to quickly hop aboard the OLPC wagon when it was announced. Thailand's previous Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra originally awarded the deal to the OLPC organization, claiming that it would freely distribute the machines at no cost to users. Shinawatra originally praised the XO, saying that he believed it would be more effective than traditional books.

Since Shinawatra's departure from government however, things have turned around. Some citizens believe that the direction the new government is heading in is based on ego and not actual economics.


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Wrong Direction
By vanka on 11/3/2006 3:20:18 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Some citizens believe that the direction the new government is heading in is based on ego and not actual economics.

Sounds kind of like the OLPC project itself. This is an old argument but here it is anyway: use the money to provide a better curriculum, facilities, and teachers rather than on a toy. Giving a laptop to a child or a school does not magically increase their ability to learn.

I know this from personal experience: when I was in the 8th grade our class won a grant of 20-30 Newton notebooks which students were allowed to checkout. They were mostly used to goof off while the teacher was lecturing. Heck, even in college where every student in the CS program had a laptop they were mostly used to check email and play games online.

The OLPC project, in my opinion, was never about helping the underprivileged children, it was always about the egos of the companies involved. If we are honest, we will agree that computers don't really help us learn; they do make learning easier, but they don't increase intelligence. If the companies involved really wanted to help the third world kids they would have started a One Musical Instrument Per Child because learning to play an instrument has been proven to develop/expand intelligence; but then again, these are tech companies.




RE: Wrong Direction
By AxemanFU on 11/3/2006 4:06:00 PM , Rating: 2
I think that the purpose isn't to increase intelligence necessarily, because that is mostly inherent at birth and can only be somewhat influenced early on afterwards. I think the purpose is to increase access to information and data, and learning tools. Of course, there is the requirement for a wireless connection to contend with. Im suprised they don't have a cheap IR port integrated, so saved information can be passed from machine to machine even if a net connection is not available. Also, the software is going to be much more critical than the hardware if we are talking about education. Just having the hardware is nothing without good software, and some sort of instruction and cirriculum for using it to learn.

Frankly, I have a feeling that a lot of these devices are going to end up on some kind of black market over time, as they get stolen or "appropriated for other uses", i.e. making internet pr0n truly global, simple games, phishing, etc. When the device is worth a month's salary in many places, it is apt to disappear to put bread on someone's table. Hopefully this is taken into account so steps are taken to reduce this loss.

My view is the project can't hurt, but it might not help as much as using the money for more fundamental things such as teachers and classrooms, pencils, paper, etc in many cases. In more developed countries with a moderate network structure where wireless can be deployed to centralized locations near schools, it might be good. It's going to be a niche tool though, not useful for many purposes.



RE: Wrong Direction
By Thmstec on 11/4/2006 12:55:19 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Of course, there is the requirement for a wireless connection to contend with. Im suprised they don't have a cheap IR port integrated, so saved information can be passed from machine to machine even if a net connection is not available.


They have a very advanced mesh system for communication. I doubt an IR port could be more useful than a simple ad-hoc mode between 2 XOs.


RE: Wrong Direction
By TomZ on 11/3/2006 4:55:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Sounds kind of like the OLPC project itself. This is an old argument but here it is anyway: use the money to provide a better curriculum, facilities, and teachers rather than on a toy. Giving a laptop to a child or a school does not magically increase their ability to learn.

I couldn't agree more. Education is lacking in developing countries, not due to lack of computers, but due to lack of financial resources. And to the extent that money spent on OLPC/XO machines and services could be instead used for more schools, teachers, books, etc., these countries are doing a disservice to their citizens. Let's solve the real problem.


RE: Wrong Direction
By Rollomite on 11/4/2006 3:20:44 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
If the companies involved really wanted to help the third world kids they would have started a One Musical Instrument Per Child because learning to play an instrument has been proven to develop/expand intelligence; but then again, these are tech companies.


This is one of the most intelligent and true statements I have read amongst the redundant bitching that goes with every OLPC article posted. Kudos. Music, the universal language.

Rollo


RE: Wrong Direction
By bokep on 11/5/2006 12:08:14 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
quote: If the companies involved really wanted to help the third world kids they would have started a One Musical Instrument Per Child because learning to play an instrument has been proven to develop/expand intelligence; but then again, these are tech companies.

Better yet, One Teacher Per Child. The bottom line is, the opportunity to education is lacking, not technology.


.
By hans007 on 11/3/06, Rating: 0
RE: .
By othercents on 11/3/2006 2:02:55 PM , Rating: 2
The problem with a real laptop is that you need a real power source and a real internet connection which is a problem for most people in other countries. The OLPC allows a user to get power through mechanical means and connect to the OLPC network through the built in wireless.

Also since these machines are built for children they should be more toyish than normal laptops. I believe an elementary kid would destroy a normal laptop within days if not hours.

Other


RE: .
By feelingshorter on 11/3/2006 2:36:52 PM , Rating: 2
Oh yea. You have to make the laptop rugged, and assume that it will be dropped. You cannot just plate it with titanium or something because that is expensive. So you have to pick the right materials that will also keep the costs down. There's a lot of problems with this, but a regular laptop would break much faster.


RE: .
By Hare on 11/3/2006 3:00:03 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. I don't think we will ever see a day without someone bashing the OLPC project. Everyone seems to think that the poorest of all countries only buy OLPC's or people simply buy them as a replacement for old Lenovo's.

Don't get me wrong. There are many things that I dont' like about this project but then again it's an absolutely fantastic start and it does actually help.

What can you do... Most people rather talk than figure something out.


RE: .
By TomZ on 11/3/2006 5:40:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What can you do... Most people rather talk than figure something out.

Maybe talking and thinking is better than spending hundreds of millions of dollars blindly on a concept that has not been studied, tested, piloted, etc. I'm not sure that "just do it and see if it helps or hurts" is really a smart approach either.


RE: .
By stephanfeb on 11/5/2006 7:33:42 PM , Rating: 2
You clearly don't know what you're talking about. Go educate yourself before making stupid comments about OLPC being a "blind experiment"


XO...
By clayclws on 11/3/2006 4:30:52 PM , Rating: 3
I still get a kick out of the name...XO. What does it stands for? I know what OLPC stands for now...One Liqour Per Child =P How do you want it? Shaken or stirred? Aight, that was just a joke. Don't flame me =D




RE: XO...
By TomZ on 11/3/2006 4:57:28 PM , Rating: 3
XO stands for nothing - just like the entire project is much ado about nothing. I predict that in a few years, it will be another "great idea" that turns out the be the subject of anecdotes about misapplied technology, as well as many jokes.


RE: XO...
By PrinceGaz on 11/3/2006 8:26:39 PM , Rating: 2
Ahh, thanks for supporting what I already presumed; that XO is a meaningless name rather than an abbreviation or acronym of anything. I'd still like to know exactly how "XO" is meant to be pronounced as there are countless possibilities and we've probably all already come up with our own interpretation, such as "bollocks" ;)


RE: XO...
By stephanfeb on 11/5/2006 7:46:39 PM , Rating: 2
Aaahh... yes, the well-reasoned The-name-sucks-so-must-the-project argument.


typo
By LuxFestinus on 11/4/2006 7:43:03 AM , Rating: 2
" Thailand isn't completing dismissing the concept of the OLPC, only the XO machine itself." should be "Thailand isn't completely dismissing the concept of the OLPC, only the XO machine itself."




Amazing
By stephanfeb on 11/5/2006 7:43:45 PM , Rating: 2
It's always interesting that when someone tries to do good, you will find hordes of neigh-sayers. I wonder how many astro-turfers for MS and Intel (both of whom were snobbed in Thailand by Thaksin) are in this thread.

This inflamatory article "conveniently" ignores the fact that politics might have had more then a little to do with Thailand dropping this project. Thaksin Shinawatra was recently (September 2006) ousted from goverment by military coup. In this case I would presume a fscked-by-association for the OLPC in Thailand, rather then solid reasoning.

OLPC remains a noble goal worth pursuing. The only other poster who actually said something useful here posted about one musical instrument per child. Interesting.






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