Adults and the OLPC

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Adults and the OLPC

Michael de la Maza 19:10, 28 August 2006 (EDT)

After the children have gone to sleep will adults use the OLPC? And, if they do, how will they use it?

OLPC’s attempts to make sure that only children use the OLPC – by making it look like a toy, painting it a garish color, and giving it an odd form factor – are misguided and bound to fail. These design decisions are justifiable because they make the OLPC more attractive to children but OLPC tilts at windmills if it goes out of its way to be adult unfriendly.

OLPC is concerned that adults will steal the OLPC. There is a simple solution for that: Announce that the ‘C’ in OLPC stands for ‘critter’ and give one to every man, woman, and child. How unfortunate that OLPC – so elegant about so many little things – is so inelegant (and horribly, harmfully wrong) about such a big thing.

Adults will use the OLPC to comprehend, to connect, and to create just as kids do. The OLPC may be so compelling that adults have children just so they can get their hands on one.

And children who have grown up with the OLPC will continue to use it (or its functionality) as adults. Like the Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer in Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age, the OLPC will grow and adapt to be helpful to children of all ages. OLPC should rush to embrace its universal appeal and stop working to limit its use.

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