Talk:Localization Common Room

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I do not understand the local culture element that is deemed to be required for the localisation of the OLPC (I come from the technical background). Could you please provide some examples?


For example, right now I am living in a desperately poor Islamic Republic country in the Sahara Desert, where the economy is based on a model of disaster mitigation (as opposed to the wealth accumulation model that underlies capitalism). The culture is only one generation removed from nomadism, and is therefore much different from that which I think the developers and technical people like yourself have in mind when they consider how this tool will be implemented. So the most basic forms of adaptation on a practical level might include making the machine impervious to dust, and able to withstand great heat - maybe solar power would be a more appropriate solution to the absolute lack of electrical infrastructure. But this is only the first step, the real issue goes back to Learning Learning and the extent to which it is appropriate to say that, for example, memorizing the Qur'an is not an adequate educational system; because that is what a good part of the educational system here consists of... How can the OLPC developers adapt the machine and its applications so that it actually comes alongside the cultural values of a society for learning and transform them from within, rather than overwhelming them in the lemon-scented colonialist way that globalization insidiously has at times pervaded the world. And there are many strengths in a society like this that could really maximize the potential of this tool. Yes, it could be seen as a problem or liability that personal property is rarely respected, and that familial or community ownership is a higher priority. But rather than seeing it as "the parents are stealing their kids' laptops," what if we look at this as an opportunity to develop the whole community? Again, it could be seen as a drawback that the pedagogical paradigm here is based on memorization and regurgitation, but it could also be seen as an opportunity to facilitate that memorization so that the facts memorized (which may have significant cultural importance and use that would be wrong for an outsider to deny the value of) can actually be put to use in the way they are intended. There is an Arabic proverb: "There are two doors to learning, memorization and understanding." Unless one has entered the first door, they can not pass through the second, which is the goal of learning. Practically this might mean that in some countries, it would be beneficial to have the capability to hear out loud texts viewed on the screen that should be memorized, thus aiding the memorization process, allowing the student to get on to understanding and learning.

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A part of the localization discussion, and really the project at large, that I haven't seen mentioned is the cultural element... there seems to be an implicit assumption of relatively standard norms of how this machine will be used, and how it will fit in to some widely diverging communities. Certainly it is important to have different applications in different languages, but this is not sufficient in terms of meeting the different needs of communities. Yes, the open-source emphasis does open lots of possibilities for communities to provide for their own needs, but I still see a big gap between what this means to the developers and what it will ultimately mean to the users. Each locality has a different cultural understanding of things as basic as personal property, individual/corporate identity, religious beliefs (and the extent to which those are relevant to computing), value of learning, etc. These things could all have far-reaching implications for how the laptops are distributed and what types of applications are available with them and even how they are made. I hope others have some valuable suggestions of how we can explore the cultural aspects of rollout and community building through this tool, otherwise I fear its success will largely be dependent on the extent to which the receiving communities conform to the cultural paradigm of capitalism, individualism, religious ambivalence toward technical development and education, and openness to new ideas.

Please check the discussion page (link on top of this page) about the cultural element. 07:04, 8 June 2006 (EDT)
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