UX Week: One Laptop Per Child

24th August 2007

So, as I mentioned, Adaptive Path’s UX Week was amazing this year — so inspiring. These photos are of the One Laptop Per Child Operating System presentation. If you’re not familiar with the project, their aim is to make sure that every child in the world has access to a laptop. Their first large scale distribution is in September, and the computers are amazing.


-They work in direct sunlight and have hand cranks to power them.
-The icon on the front of the computer represents a little person, and can be color customized to suit a kid’s preferences.
-The operating system is awesome. It’s based on the idea of a community of people participating in activities. When someone in your network is doing something (playing a music game, making a drawing, writing something), and they want others to join in, they make their activity public. That activity icon appears on everyone’s desktops. You can see at a glance which activities are popular, because the xo icons gather around a task in which they’re participating. You click on your preferred activity icon to join the fun, and clicking puts you into an interface with the tools you need to play or learn. A “journal” feature automatically records (saves) everything you do, so you can go back and see what you did, when you did it, and who else helped.
-About 2,000 developers around the world are developing activities for the laptop.
-The laptops are tied to a leasing system that immediately deactivates a laptop if its reported missing or stolen.
-School participation is way up in communities where kids get these laptops, and for many families, the laptop is the brightest source of light available in their homes.

You can learn more at the One Laptop Per Child site. It’s a genius project.

15 thoughts on “UX Week: One Laptop Per Child

  1. erat

    This is a wonderful project, yes. Some concerns have been voiced about the affects of introducing technology into cultures that are not even slightly technical, but hopefully the folks that will deploy these puppies have determined how to make it work. It’s tricky stuff.

  2. Julie

    This is a wonderful idea. I’m so glad to know people are finally putting energy into developing technology for children that doesn’t involve video games.

  3. cindy

    What about the fact that these children are starving, have no electricity, fresh safe drinking water etc…. what is more important? a laptop or water??

  4. Maggeh Post author

    The “you’re not doing the right project” thing comes up for them a lot. The founder’s answer is that he’s doing what he knows how to do to help.

  5. Mrs. Kennedy

    That’s a good response to that sort of criticism, especially if you can bounce it back to the Cindys of the world (nothing personal, I’m just using your comment as an example) and say, “I see you’re concerned about clean water, so I assume you’re putting some energy into that problem, and not just looking for holes in my project.”

  6. Pingback: OLPC. « The Short Fat Kid

  7. aimee/greeblemonkey

    I knew the water and food question would come up. But I am totally on board with “do what you know how to do.” We all have different talents and each talent is a valid answer to helping our neighbors. Besides, this is a new adaptation of “teaching a man to fish.”

    Thanks for sharing, Maggie.

  8. Erica C.

    This would be great for the schools here in S.C. In my rural community, the kids don’t have much access to laptops or home computers. I just got my 12 year old her first laptop and she loves it. I’m getting the 7 and 8 year old one for Christmas. My husband doesn’t like the fact that there will be 4 computers in the house, but what does he know!!! LOL. I would love to gather information about this and express it’s importance to my local school board. Thanks for the info!

  9. crzylady

    Ingenious. My family does support through the Christian Childrens’ Fund (because of the reputation for money management not the religion). And it’s amazing the things these families can buy with a $10 a month (the sponsorship money is money which goes to the improvement of the village while a gift goes directly to the family). Our last sponsor family was able to move into the city after about 4 months of the additional money where they would have better chance of supporting their family. So we’ll continue to do this and knowing that a company/program is interesting in giving these children tools to create a better life for THEIR children is amazing!

  10. mercedes

    You will be able to get these in the United States, but you will have to buy two – one for you and one for a poor child in another country.

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