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OLPC is designed around the idea of the free sharing of knowledge. Our goal is to empower children to share and build on what they learn in every way imaginable. There should be no barriers to children who wish to recreate and build on the materials they are given.
XO will bring a world of new ideas, images and materials within reach of children around the world. It will also bring children and teachers new ways to collaborate, create, and transform works over time. Our focus on collaboration as a fundamental element of learning drives a commitment to editable document formats, revision tracking, and careful attribution of authors and sources.
XO provides children with new ways to derive knowledge from what is around them -- ways to record and to try things out, as well as ways to share, compare, and shape the ideas and work of others. This collaboration should be transparent, with the history of contributions and commentary, and each child's own history of contributions, given a primary place in descriptions of any work. At many levels, from clusters of laptops to digital libraries at schools, OLPC tools for creating, storing, and finding content are designed to make sharing easy.
OLPC also aims to provide access to libraries of knowledge, ideas, experiments, and art that others have created and attempted, as a window into the world and as examples and references on which to build. As children study new areas and add new ideas and experiments, they will be able to update the knowledge they share with those around them.
Networks of laptops and school servers provide a platform for sharing both existing knowledge and new ideas. Our focus is on how these networks will be used to create and discover new things, and to build new communities of learning.
Shared projects hold great power to engage and inspire creative effort. Projects shared across a small group help children to discover their own capacity for teaching and learning. Those shared across a group of thousands have the power to create tools, artefacts, and resources with a diversity, specificity, and comprehensiveness that could not otherwise exist.
Until recently, the simple costs of publication and distribution have made the sharing of locally created projects and learning materials beyond a single school prohibitive. Networks of XOs, and the publishing tools that come with them, will make possible the development and free sharing of learning materials customized to every locale and culture.
Every OLPC school will be part of a content network that spans their country and the world. Each school will have a server with a digital library of materials. These school servers will store what children and teachers create, as well as collections from every subject area, drawn from national libraries and museums, and from creators around the world: from classics of art, music, [mathematics,] and literature to images of the world to workbooks and texts.
The servers will themselves be windows into a repository of content larger than an individual school server can hold. They will be exchange materials with other schools and with collections on national servers and across the world.
The servers will provide tools for collaboration across and among XO networks. These include a wiki for the shared development and localization of texts, and a media server for storing and streaming audio and video recordings.
Comparison and critique of shared work leads naturally to grouping and curation. Curation is integral to effectively finding and sharing content. Curators will help to present comprehensible subsets of reference materials and cultural archives, to the choice of core software tools for creation, to the organization and amplification across the network of great local collaborations.
The curation of content will be done at every level; children will learn to organize and curate knowledge by creating collections for themselves and for one another, and countries and teachers will curate collections for their children and students. The Journal and Library will let children tag materials and associate them with collections from the moment of creation.
A community of curators will help to identify and build collections of excellent resources for children in each subject, and to connect communities of XO users with communities in the wider world that are already creating and organizing free knowledge.
On free knowledge
(parallelling our open software manifesto)
Networks of XOs with digital libraries will bring children and communities access to a world of extraordinary ideas, cultures, games, creative works, and scientific discoveries. They will be able to immediately take part in, explore, or simulate many of these. XO will also provide many new tools for recording one's environment and collaborations, and children will find they have original contributions to make. The production of new works, interpretations, and collections to match the diversity of the children themselves, will require providing them with the freedom to share and reuse what they learn and create.
For these reasons, and to uphold the principles which will guide the success of our project, content in the core OLPC Library should:
- Include any source code and allow its modification, so that developers and children can change the software to fit an inconceivably diverse set of needs.
- Include description of its creation, history, and contributors, and tools made to create it, so that children can come to understand the process by which content and tools are developed, and can learn to evaluate material based on its references and origins.
- Allow distribution of modified or translated copies, so that the freedoms that current creators and collaborators depend upon for scalability and success remain available to those who stand on their shoulders.
- Allow redistribution without permission -- either alone or as part of a collection -- as we can not know and should not control how knowledge and ideas will be reused. As children outgrow current knowledge, their libraries must grow with them.
- Require no royalties or other fees for redistribution or modification, for economy and pragmatism in the global context of our project.
- Place no restrictions on other content that is distributed along side it. Licenses must not limit the public domain, copyright, or copyleft content that can be distributed on the platform. An entire world of content should be open to children through this project, and they will need to be able to choose from all of it.
- Allow these rights to be passed on to others. To this end, content should avoid licenses specific to either the OLPC organization or its children. While we are providing content today, the users of the laptops are the authors and librarians of tomorrow, and it is through them that this shared body of knowledge will grow and be passed on.
- Support and promote open data and file formats, and be producable with free tools (e.g., editing and layout tools)
- Avoid discriminating against persons or areas of study, either through inaccessible interfaces or through systemic bias.
In this way we may lay the foundation for a worldwide community of learners and creators, skilled in large-scale collaboration, designing their own projects and finding ways to play with and learn from those around them.