Rollout and community building ideas

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This page has a lot of great ideas, however it is not a good introduction for someone who wants to get involved in community building for OLPC. See Community building to get started.

Common Rooms idea

When a specific problem area is identified where we need to get a community together to discuss possible solutions, let's set up a wikipage as a Common Room. In Common Rooms you can find a list of available common rooms.

See also the efforts of iCommons, OLE, and free culture spaces

Grassroots Organizations

OLPC supporters can create Grassroots Organizations to promote and support OLPC in their respective countries and greater geographical regions. Examples include Nepal and Spanish America. Currently such organizations are unofficial. OLPC Nepal has no official tie to the OLPC organization


Note that there are several common mechanisms for "supporting" internationalization and localization; the most common being gettext, which makes use of template files. We are looking into the use of an emerging standard, xliff, that supports more than just translation of strings and is generally both more robust and extensible. Of course, all of this presumes that there is someone to do the trsanslation or localization of images, etc. --Walter

When you refer to the localization of images, what does that mean please?

For example, if someone authors some learning material in English, and the laptop project wants copies in, say, Spanish and Portuguese, does localization of images refer to all images or only those where there is some text in the image?

Would use of the full stop lock and key technique in the following article help, with an initial master diagram, with no text upon it, being prepared and then the English version as a layout example.

The Spanish and Portuguese versions of the text could be supplied in text files and someone skilled in preparing images, though not necessarily a linguist, could use the master diagram and the text from a text file, and, guided by the layout example, produce a localized image.

If someone wanted that done, the request could be made in the Artwork Common Room.

However, I am wondering whether I am missing something here and wonder whether localization of images implies more, even perhaps far more, than what the above suggestion would provide.

In relation to the localization of images, could someone possibly supply an example image and such other information as is necessary (for example, some text in two or more languages) for someone who is learning the system to try localizing please? That could perhaps be a valuable learning experience in trying to build an infrastructure of how learning material authors, people doing translations and people who can produce images can interact so as to produce learning material localized into a number of languages.

The following article could perhaps help with some characters, such as those from Unicode code points of U+0100 and greater.

William Overington 28 March 2006

connect 1:1 educators and students

There is a fairly large body of K-12 educators and students who have been working in 1:1 environments for many years now. For instance, my school has had a 1:1 laptop deployment for 8 years. There are schools in the US and Australia that have had 1:1 laptop programs for over 12 years. Within these schools there is a great deal of information about how to successfully do education when everyone has a computer. I believe many teachers and students within the existing 1:1 educational community would be more than willing to share their hard-earned knowledge if provided an easy to use forum. Would OLPC be willing to host such a forum?

Fred Bartels learning with laptops 3 November 2006

No one needs special permission to create germane stuff. To start this forum, just click this link:

The page you create with the editor can be visited by the community you mention, who can click the edit button to modify same. You may first want to review this page: How_to_use_a_wiki. Your own Web site's list of schools is already pointed to from this page: Teaching,_Institutional_and_Professional_Barriers.

Just as the OLPC machinery is specially adapted to the conditions in developing countries, so too one should expect successful First World programs must be as well. But learning about the Developed World programs is a start.

- Docdtv 17:42, 16 December 2006 (EST)

Ideas for Latin America

Latin America is a 500+ million area that is divided in two: Brazil/Portuguese with 190 million, and the rest are basically spanish speaking countries (16) with an overall population of around 330 million. Sure, there are many local or indigenous languages, but the schooling system is (in general) in those two languages with (afaik) few brave exceptions. The population in schooling years are 33 million in Brazil, 68 million in the rest; totallying 100 million in the ages 4-15 years. The advantages of such a 'homogeneous' population is something worth trying to exploit. Much of the teaching material will be the same: common shared history (with local and regional highlights that are also useful for neighboring countries); language studies are basically the same; and for the other general material, a single language needs to be developed. Looking at the region as a whole (instead of individual countries), the effort of reaching the 5 million units is quite achievable... obviously, this would be the 'taster' or 'sampler' and then each country can decide to cover the remaining population and how. But in the meantime, the project achives it's minimum size and everybody has something to start testing...--Xavi 13:31, 27 November 2006 (EST)

Another Idea That May Make The Rollout Successful

Hi Nicholas, (I know it is naïve of me to think that this might be read by the great man, but I am aiming high!) I am the MD of a small start-up that seems to be getting great acceptance for working with teachers and schools in Hong Kong. We have plans for regions well beyond Hong Kong and China. We plan to supply and support hardware and software into all parts of SE Asia. I am a teacher of over 2 decades experience and my staff are also teachers. Many of the organizations that we partner with are also teachers passionate about using technology to enrich the lives of children.

To focus my energy for what I do and the energies of all of the people I take on as I grow, I want my company to have a clear mission that is bigger than just selling to schools and being the best that we can be. For this reason, I want to set up a small foundation that will hopefully grow in proportion to my company.

I want to use the foundation to send staff to communities in SE Asia that cannot afford the services of my company or any other company but are in desperate need of technology like the OLPC computer to give the next generation a chance at a better future. I have already worked on holiday camps with young HK born kids here who have assisted me to run classes for kids here in HK. From this experience, I know that I can tap into a lot of very clever, motivated HK university students, most of whom are multi-lingual and want to do something for kids in SE Asia who were not lucky enough to be born into an affluent family in this “world city”. It is kids like this that will form the core group of people who will be trained up to spend 2 weeks or so working alongside traditional teachers, perhaps with an interpreter as well, to ensure that the OLPC laptop does not suffer the fate of a lot of computers put into schools in the first wave of IT purchases that I saw in Australia and the UK. In this phase, the hardware came in without the instruction on how to use it effectively in a classroom situation. As a result a lot of the hardware remained either unused or was the “treat” for the child who finished early who got to play games whilst the others finished. I do not want to see this happen to the hardware of the OLPC initiative! I can send a lot more information about my credentials and my companies business model and plans should you be interested in working with me in some way.

What I would like to be able to move forward on this is a reply as to whether you would be interested in supporting my “BHAG” by informing me of SE Asian communities that might want to take up the OLPC initiative and would be open to me sending a team out to partner with them for the first two weeks of the rollout. The community would need to provide accommodation and food for the team that I send out but the team themselves would donate their time and would fund their own city-city transport. (We may have to rely on community transport if the team has to travel to a remote community.)

A young girl I worked with this summer, who impressed me greatly with her abilities and her sense of social responsibly is a HK national studying in New York at present. I would really like her to meet with someone from the project as I would be looking to appoint her as a liaison/coordinator for the foundation. Her name is Jacqueline Chi Ling Law.

Let me know if there is any interest in what I am proposing.

Kind regards

Paul (I hope you have a way of getting my email from my registration or my website [])

Localization Common Room idea

Suppose that someone, whose native language is English, is interested in producing learning material which could be used on the laptop in various countries once that learning material is localized into the local language, yet that person knows only a little of languages. There are many languages into which content would need to be localized.

In that one needs to start somewhere I have thought that an approach which might be worth trying, in the context of rollout and community building, would be to have such pages in this wiki as a "Common Room" type environment where people who can write in at least one of English, Spanish and Portuguese and people who can write in two or more of those languages, can interact and observe what happens.

For example, there are various language translation packages, both as programs for PCs and as web utilities. Yet what is the quality of translation? Can a system evolve whereby someone can, say, prepare something in English and then it be machine translated into, say, Spanish, then both the original and the clearly designated machine translated version placed in the Localization Common Room and then maybe someone who knows Spanish can read it through and correct it as necessary and comment?

This may or may not be workable in practice. If it is workable, then maybe it could be part of the community building infrastructure.

William Overington

24 March 2006

English, Portuguese and Spanish Localization Common Room

Here is a link to such a Localization Common Room and we can observe what, if anything, happens with it.

English Portuguese and Spanish Localization Common Room

Artwork Common Room idea

It would be useful to have an Artwork Common Room where a learning material author who needs an illustration file to include in a document which he or she is authoring can go and request that such an illustration be produced.

People interested in the laptop project who are not learning material authors yet who are interested in producing illustrations to support learning material authored by others could also go there and find a project.

Company Sponsored Software/Other Creative Projects Writing Scheme

small entries, the best of which win small monetary prizes, after all that is what the majority of people work for, its not for the love. This would have two effects it would get company's interested in the project and the students who are learning to use these laptops. It would show these students and their families the direct relation between them learning IT and other skills and the outside world.

Pilot Projects / Randomized Controlled Trials

Randomized controlled trials, or baseline surveys at a bare minimum, would allow researchers to analyze statistically the effect of receiving a laptop on education, health, income, and labor market outcomes years and decades in the future. This is the most scientific way to demonstrate if a project is successful. PROGRESA in Mexico is an example of a project that has been enormously influential due to proven success in a pilot project. See Pilot Projects.

Education and promotion through existing media

In the UK, in the 1980s there was a project set up by the BBC (the national broadcaster) called The Computer Literacy Project. The BBC had commissioned the design of a home computer , which most state schools purchased. There were many TV programmes and some radio programmes shown to explain how computers work, how to program them, and the benefits of their use. The TV shows had a great impact on school children of that age, and I think something similar could be set up using the BBC World Service. Radio programmes in the local language could be used first to inform about the aims of the project, then to explain how to get involved, then a longer series could be made explaining basic computer skills - maybe with interviews with children in different countries discussing the different uses they have found for their OLPCs.

Deployment Suggestion

I believe that the deployment of the $100 laptops will engender a social movement that will dwarf the vision, technological achievements, and business acumen that went into its creation. This is going to be big ~

And yet, deployment will not be without hurdles. I have been pondering some of those hurdles and would like to make a suggestion to facilitate the use of the $100 laptops.

I would like to suggest that Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs), and people working in other development agencies, be used as intermediaries for the initial deployment of the laptops.

My idea is neither that PCVs be used to distribute computers nor to stand in the front of classrooms and teach children ways to use them, but rather that they be tapped as local resources when questions arise.

Peace Corps Volunteers

Why Peace Corps Volunteers?

  • They already espouse, at the core of their beings, the ideal of equity. They will not have to be convinced that the value of the $200 laptop is actually infinite. Many will have read Pedagogy of the Oppressed and will see the potential encased within the laptops for a shift in the balance of power.
  • They have all been trained to function as facilitators rather than as providers of knowledge.
  • There are 7,800 PCVs in the field today, serving in 75 developing nations. As a group they are highly educated, highly motivated, accessible and free.
Computers are already an essential part of the Peace Corps program. Each volunteer gets one, trains somebody locally, and leaves the computer with them.

As a former Peace Corps Volunteer I can attest to the fact that people in developing nations know what they’re missing; they desire the gadgets of the developed world. But I also witnessed a young man putting a handheld television to his ear thinking it was a phone. And, more significantly, the people with whom I worked defined leadership as dictatorship. They looked to their teachers, their employers, and their presidents to tell them what to do and to do for them. The people with whom I worked had very little experience in relying on themselves as sources of information or power, which could create a bump in the road when deploying the $100 laptops.

This is where Peace Corps Volunteers can be of use to the OLPC foundation. They can mentor. They can demonstrate use. They can make suggestions and offer guidance when questions arise. PCVs will have come of age with the egalitarian nature of Linux and open-source software and they can promote that sort of self-reliance to others who have little exposure, even conceptually, to a level playing field.

Peace Corps Volunteers work where local communities have asked for their assistance. Many work in education-related fields but all function as informal educators. Certainly a PCV in either a healthcare or agriculture related position could sit with neighborhood children and help them learn to connect to a server so that they have access to the WWW.

It is my belief that with a minimal exposure to the technical capabilities of the $100 laptops as well as to the philosophy/education methodology of constructivism, Peace Corps Volunteers could be a useful implementation tool to the OLPC foundation.

Judy Belletti Aug. 26, 2006

Second the motion.--Mokurai 19:42, 15 October 2006 (EDT) (Peace Corps, South Korea, 1967)
I also Second the motion. I need as much information/help I can get to make this rollout as smooth as possible. Thanks. Tiripsygrene (Peace Corps, Benin, West Africa, 2006-2008)
Fantastic idea. I'm an IT PCV in West Africa and I am already full of ideas for rolling this out. FULL. I am currently exploring options. --Llsmith05 10:25, 25 September 2007 (EDT) (PC, Cape Verde, West Africa 06-08)
The Electronic Peace Corp

The idea is that people sign up to help a project in a developing country without having to leave their own living room, let alone country. This would allow doctors, teacher, business leaders, engineers and the like to contribute their time and expertise. The ability to communicate in real time via Skype video and the like would mean that people could be on hand to help when needed. A kind of walking, talking Wiki page.

Craig Wherlock Jan. 09, 2007

I was once involved in a large renovation to a local library. The problem of what to do with the books during the period of construction was solved by having the local residents all check out 10 books each and return them when the library was complete. Perhaps some sort of community carrier service using passengers on airlines.

Mark Braithwaite AIA April 21, 2007


20061007:23:31gmt-7 Las Vegas NV 89102 USA How about supporting the OLPC program the old fashioned way. Sell them retail for $200 -- I get one if I want to buy one -- and some kid who needs one but can't buy one gets one for free! --rs ~+

There is a plan to do a deal with a computer vendor for a retail version. The profit margin for OLPC will not be that large, but such as it is, it goes into the development pool.--Mokurai 19:29, 15 October 2006 (EDT)

I Second the Retail Idea

This is a great idea and I came here to find out about just such a thing. I have two small children here in the state of Maryland, USA. I would love to buy one of these laptops for my children at a heftier price ($200? --that would be our limit and for most people I bet) and have the proceeds going to children and places who really need it. A lot of people in the Western world would be receptive to such an idea. Sending money to charity is one thing, but this would feel like you are participating and one could teach their child about the idealism of the whole thing.

Sister Schools

A possible way to achive financial independence from national funds, is to have well-off schools do a N:1 program with 'sister schools'. For example, a 'rich' school chooses a sister school, and for every laptop they buy, the other school gets one. This solves part of the financial burden (which the 'rich' school may get through contacts and donations from private companies). Having 'sister' schools, they can later use the OLPC connectivity to share experiences, classes, curricula, activities and whatever they fathom, creating social links and bonds. Also, they may 'tutor' or 'mentor' the kids in using them because in many places, well-off schools already have computers either at school or at home.--Xavi 06:25, 11 November 2006 (EST)

Infrastructure / Ecosystem

Although the laptop is in its own right a worthy project with an enormous potential, its chances of survival in a non-friendly or otherwise indifferent environment will be curtailed. As far as I can tell, the laptop is being designed to be autonomous (off-the-grid, server-less, i-mesh) to ensure the broadest possible reach without compromising its utility. Notwithstanding, the underlying assumption is that somehow the laptop will eventually have access to the internet. How? Somewhere, there has to be a gateway and some level of infrastructure.

Assuming that the gateway's environment will be somewhat similar to that of the laptop's, the following must be addressed:

  • Electricity
  • Server hardware & software
  • Connectivity
  • Extras (see below)

Many places are likely to have sub-standard electricity. What level and quality is/will be required? Although some base assumptions can be made, the answer depends on the next subject, the server. Laptops in general have the great advantage of having a built-in UPS; so a possible solution is to create a variant of the laptop that could double as a server. For example, having an RJ-45 so that it can patch to whatever is available without the need of an access point or other paraphernalia.

The 'server' itself will be used differently than the children's laptops. That means different software to address issues like remote maintenance, security, backups, etc. On the 'fantasy land' of ideas, the server could help the school administrators in their daily activities. Obviously, this will strongly dependend on each country, region, community, school; but wouldn't it help if the school administration also sees some personal benefits and thus be motivated to be part of the project?

The connectivity issue relies on whatever is below (electricity and server). But it needs to be there and administrated so that whatever approach is taken, it should be closest to hassle-free as possible.

Now the 'extras'. While it definitely goes into 'fantasy land', it has some down-to-earth issues. The laptop itself has the USB connectors which take care of some things that have been proposed as 'limitations' of the laptop like the lack of a hard drive or cd-rom. It also solves some other standard connectivity issues like printers, scanners, and such. But it's also provides a plethora of untapped potential. I'm well aware that what follows may dangerously distract the attention from the main objectives, but for example a synergy could be developed with the issues of climate change. For example, weather stations could be provided to some schools which later 'broadcast'. In the short-term it'll be just a novelty (like checking the weather of remote-schoolmates) but in the long term, reliable weather databases need to be developed for third-world countries. The synergy could provide not only deployment incentives, but also some level of financing through other programs. Just an idea, and I know there are many more!

Finally, and this is a totally personal perception (iow, could be totally off mark both in project objectives and/or development), is that the ecosystem for the laptops is being left as an after-thought. Many people are working on the 'internals' of the laptop (both hardware and software), and how to integrate it to the pedagogical issues; but what about the physical externals? --Xavi 09:52, 11 November 2006 (EST)

Avoiding misuse

Limiting the user's age

[Corruption] is a major problem in most parts of the 'third world'. While it exists worldwide, it is more evident at the individual level in most 'third world' countries. We may not assume that [governments] are reliable partners. On a first clue I had the idea to avoid misuse of the OLPC by means of biometrical data. Only humans under (let's say) 25 years may be able to turn it on. This could be carried out by a sensor which scans the childs hand. It would rise the price but corruption and egoism is the reason why development aid fails.

Open source developers may tend to overestimate the goodwill of governments. Bringing 1M laptops to China or Brazil has nothing to do with success as long as they don't reach their destination. Financing and technology is one side. Psychology is the other.

The current model of the OLPC already has biometrical capability built-in. Here's how it can be exploited. Children and teenagers are capable of hearing higher frequencies of sound than adults. If a program asked for a key to be pressed when the sound is heard and let go when the sound stops, then you could have a challenge response system. It would ask for a random number between 2 and 5 keystrokes. The length of each keystroke and the length of the pause between them would vary randomly between 1 and 4 seconds.

>I believe that the "childish" design was created to prevent these sorts of goings on. People may not feel bad purchasing a stolen laptop, but purchasing one that is so obviously created for a child is a different story. I believe the best method to cutting back corruption is spreading the image of the laptop. If everyone in an area knows about the project, a 30 year old working on the laptop is going to get some social stigma and is probably going to be asked some questions.

>>Isn't the laptop becoming a part of the kid's community, one of the reason kids will bring them home? I.e., be used by their family, and friends? I think putting too much of a social stigma on _any_ adult using the laptop will decrease the value (not economical) of the laptop.

>>>A lot of literature and Wiki pages I've read have expressed that the child should have a "sense of ownership" of the laptop, by giving it to the actual child. How can you own something if when you turn 30 and dig it out of your closet to see if it still works it says "Sorry no old men"? (How many of you have a Commodore 64?) Or am I misreading and does the school just repossess the laptop when the kid graduates? As for the "childish" design, have you seen the Xbox with the metal skull case with glowing LED eyes and built-in LCD monitor? You'll repel maybe 95-98% of would-be pirates, but somewhere, someone is going to actually try to get one specifically to make it look incredibly cool ;)

Economic Models

Little interference with local markets

The project should be able to absorb charity money without screwing up the local economy. Sometimes giving food aid depresses the prices for local farmers to uneconomic levels for example. This laptop project is pure information and access. It is however a deeply political project and will have enormous results bringing millions of people into the “net”. My thought is to find some way to channel money to the purpose of providing laptops to children to governments. It seems foolish to send $50 to the government of Brazil, but maybe if a lot of us wanted to do this...

Retail Sale

By allowing retail sale of the laptops, at (say) twice the quantity price, the project could (a) build community, (b) encourage developers, and (c) subsidize the wholesale units. At $250 each, quite a few first- and second-world sales might be possible...

If the laptop is $100 within the project and were to raise $100 to fund another one for a child in the developing world, that makes $200. Yet there are then distribution costs, wholesaler's markup and retailer's markup, including markup so that service departments can be set up. With a one-off launch for a few weeks, such as for a charity recording of a song, businesses may give up their markups so that every penny goes to the charity, yet for a long-term project of selling the laptops to help to fund the OLPC project there may well need to be allowance for the markups so that it is sustainable.
Another problem, which maybe could be a huge problem, is that while OLPC is solely distributing laptops to children in the developing world there is potentially scope for goodwill over what is happening and exceptions to people enforcing legal rights about trade happening. However, if the laptops have a place in developed world markets, then legal rights about trade may well be enforced.
So maybe the marketing needs to be that the retail price without any subsidy is first worked out, then the laptop is actually retailed at just above the retail price of commercial laptops, with the difference going to OLPC to fund more laptops for the children. So, this could work out at "buy one - give two free" or "buy one - give two point seven free" or whatever. In that way, someone buying an OLPC laptop would be paying more than the cheapest commercial competitor would cost, so, and I am not a lawyer and know very little about the law in this area, and the law may well be different in various countries, it might be that that policy would allow sales in the developed world without any legal problems. Does that sound reasonable?

The fact is that this would have to be handled outside of the core OLPC work. That means that OLPC would have to spin out a seperate charitable organization to do that work. This costs money up front and it definitely requires some committed manpower. It could be done, but it is not likely to happen fast because the OLPC team are busy enough just getting the units built and into their first real field trial.

>The fact is that this would have to be handled outside of the core OLPC work.
>That means that OLPC would have to spin out a separate charitable organization to do that work.
>This costs money up front and it definitely requires some committed manpower.
Yes. However, it need not be OLPC money and the committed manpower need not be taken from the OLPC project. For example, there was a television programme series called The Apprentice, an American version with Donald Trump and a British version with Sir Alan Sugar. How about a similar yet different television programme series called Commercializing the Laptop and the team of people have to work together and we, as viewers, watch them meet lawyers, marketing people, advertising agency people and so on as they put the laptop on the market to raise funds for the OLPC project. None of the "You're fired" ambiance of the The Apprentice show. Maybe it could be a supervised group project for some Master of Business Administration degree students with the television company paying the college fees of the participants or however the television people want to implement the idea to incentivize the participants and make the show.
>It could be done,
>.... but it is not likely to happen fast ....
>.... because the OLPC team are busy enough just getting the units built and into their first real field trial.
Well, there would probably need to be one or two meetings with the television programme participants, but most of the work would not be done by the OLPC team.
It may be that there will be a commercial version of the laptop sooner or later. Maybe sooner, at zero cost financially to the OLPC project, little time cost to the OLPC project, yet getting in the money from the premium on commercial sales would be beneficial. One of the sponsoring organizations of OLPC owns television channels. How about running the idea in front of them?

Some links to The Apprentice television series.

I couldn't help but think that there must be a way to tie this idea of first and second world purchasing to community building. Some way of requiring purchasers to become part of the OLPC community to help build and maintain the third world costs, deployment and ongoing development.

Bring in 1st and 2nd world educators to use the devices as part of social studies, history and geography curriculum and directly interact and learn with the 3rd world students they are studying. Children would love this! Educators would love this! Governments would love this!

I believe there is a way to tie all this together. This initiative can bring the 3rd world into the 1st and 2nd worlds like nothing before.

IT Jobs for olpc Users

Is there a way to allow the older children and parents of the children to perform tasks on the laptops for micropayments? For example, tasks considered menial by experienced computer users would gladly be done by others in the world for fractions of a penny. This can include tasks only humans can perform, pattern recognition, etc. that would require the simple ability to find characters on a keyboard or screen. Corporations could pay to have certain data mining tasks performed by adults. Earlier in this thread, someone talks about using biometrics to identify users under the age of 25. The inverse could be used to only allow those over 25 to perform these tasks. Also, the software could be configured to only allow it to run during 'bedtime.' Many have spoken about the difficulty of networking poorer nations. Corporate sponsorship would be pretty easy to get to implement the infrastructure for a corporation to gain the right to have the community earn micropayments for doing exclusive computing tasks for that corporation for a period of time. Let's get these laptops used around the clock to generate wealth and knowledge for the entire planet.

Collecting donations

The price of 100$ should put third world governments in the position to buy enough laptops to make OLPC reality. That's how I understood it. Is there any other way of funding laptops? Would it be an idea to organize private donations, let's say of 100$ or more and to assign this money to countries which have problems to spend 100$ because it equals two monthly salaries of a teacher. Or even more, compare this to the ratio of salaries of teachers and regular notebook prices in western countries! Often people hesitate to donate because they worry if the money reaches people in need. The promise that the money is spend on one individual laptop rather than being funding for an organization would help to collect money. Maybe it's even possible to establish a link between the donator an the child. I'm not sure about the last idea, even though it might help to raise money. It has to be carefully thought of.

Science fiction which might possibly provide a few ideas

John Brunner

  • The Shockwave Rider Eventually we get to scientific planning for disaster recovery, with computer links to (serious spoiler).
  • Stand on Zanzibar After a series of disasters that bring the good guys together, we get to a troubled development program in Africa.
  • The Sheep Look Up Ecological disaster
  • The Stone that Never Came Down (out of print) What if a virus gets loose that affects people's minds so that they (serious spoiler)?

Lois McMaster Bujold

  • Segments of the Vorkosigan Saga. The Mountains of Mourning in the collection Borders of Infinity, discusses village education by computer and commlink on the Count's extensive estates as part of the background to a murder mystery. In the novel Barrayar, currently in print in Cordelia's Honor, Countess Cordelia Vorkosigan is astonished that the poor in the cities of Barrayar are not provided with commconsoles (i.e., networked PCs), or even electricity, and points out that free access to information is the first article in the Constitution of Beta Colony.

Geoff Ryman

The eutotokens of learning

Some years ago I tried writing some science fiction, science fiction in the tradition of putting forward ideas for the future in a story setting which could potentially work.

Most of what I produced is on the web.

The items on the web are from 1997 and 1998 and time has passed since then. Some of the basic ideas in the stories are quite possibly entirely different from what is intended for this laptop project: for example, learning packages funded by advertising revenue, though the problems that that mode of working produces in the story might be of interest. So, I am mentioning the story here not as the definitive way to produce community building yet in the hope that maybe some of the ideas might be helpful in devising an opportunity creating infrastructure.

William Overington, 15 March 2006

Would the idea of the optolabe be of use? It now has its own page in this wiki. Optolabe

Get Sugar campaign

How about starting a campaign to get people excited about and running Sugar, with some sort of incentive for finding new bugs? -- SJ and Joshua McGinnis

We should start a campaign to get communities involved in OLPC and more specifically, the Sugar OS. The primary purpose of promoting Sugar would be to gather feedback and bug reports from users. However, the campaign serves a dual-purpose by also offering the public additional exposure to OLCP project and mission.

Ideas ...

  • Using PowWeb ( as the platform launching “Get Sugar.”
    • The PowWeb user base is an engaged group of web hosting customers. Customers are from all over the world, with the majority being based in the U.S.
  • One idea is for PowWeb to host a mirror of the Sugar OS.
    • PowWeb should donate space and bandwidth to OLPC for the mirror.
    • PowWeb will press-release and launch a Get Sugar campaign that encourages users to download and install the SugarOS.
  • Gathering feedback
    • We should discuss how we want to channel feedback from our customers to OLPC
  • The “Sugar Challenge”
    • One way to promote Sugar would be to launch the Sugar Challenge, a contest where participants are challenged to find a bug in SugarOS. If validates, participants will get prizes and/or free hosting.
    • Possible giveaways: cd's of sugar, OLPC t-shirts, stickers, an XO, free hosting for a year
    • Need to talk about how to fund this initiative .
  • A business model that works
    • PowWeb (according to Joshua McGinnis) has one motivation for wanting to be involved with OLPC: to attract new customers by supporting a worthy cause.
  • The initial hurdle we'll need to overcome is the barrier of entry. The only cost of associated with launching a Get Sugar campaign, with no prizes, is time and bandwidth for hosting the mirror.
  • Long term plan of offering hosting to all OLPC children
    • I'd (joshuamc) like for PowWeb to commit to working with OLPC to bring web hosting technology to every child in the world for free.
    • We should find a way to integrate an interface into Sugar that will allow students to create their own easy site.
    • Among others, one primary hurdle for getting complete PowWeb buy-in is that free doesn't currently fit within the model of directly attracting new customers. That being said, we should think of a way to integrate hosting into the SugarOS with a paid upgrade or enterprise version that brings in revenue.