jason: jason (Default)

EcoGeek - Flexible OLEDs

This new device is both transparent and flexible, while still producing a bright display that can be viewed at almost any angle. Its response time is up to ten times faster than traditional LEDs, making for smooth, smooth video. The engineers of the future could have a field day with this material, creating ultra-light laptops, rollable televisions and digital newspapers.

But why should this product delight an Ecogeek more than any old geek? Most importantly, all LEDs consume less energy and are therefore more efficient. That’s a plus for us on the consumption end. But OLEDs also offer an advantage on the production end – they can be printed onto a wide variety of substrates. Obviously, the environmental friendliness of the OLED ultimately depends on the substrates chosen and the production requirements for that substrate. But it means that manufacturers aren’t working with heavy metals like mercury, which go into many fluorescent lights.

This is what JulidD and I were talking about… a cheap rollup computer that uses almost no power.

jason: jason (Default)

Slashdot | Sub-$100 Laptops Have Finally Arrived talks about the The HiVision miniNote (video at this link of puter):

They ditched x86 compatibility and switched to a MIPS architecture to further reduce production costs. HiVision has managed to create a UMPC that sells right now for $120.00. They say they have refined the manufacturing process and have learned from building this laptop how to mass produce a laptop that will sell for $98.00.”

It runs linux, which will make AlexB happy. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve never worried about OLPC per se, but the concept of zero cost computing was always an interest. This gets the price point down, but is otherwise as lame as most puters in terms of being culturally/pedagogically appropriate.

jason: jason (Default)

Slashdot | MIT Team Working On a $12 Apple (II) Desktop

PC Pro: News: MIT working on £6 Apple desktop

A new project to create a £6 computer is underway at MIT, the same University that spawned the One Laptop Per Child non-profit laptop.
The PCs will be loosely based on Apple 2 machines, first unveiled over 30 years ago, and the team are actively recruiting enthusiasts of the retro computer to help with development.

The Apple 2 was the first mass-produced PC, which sold over 5 million units. It was extremely popular for educational use in the 80s, but is set to get a new lease on life.

Rather than a laptop, the unit will act as a desktop computer and plug directly into a standard television.

Designers on quest to build $12 computer - BostonHerald.com

Derek Lomas, Jesse Austin-Breneman and other designers want to create a computer that Third World residents can buy for less than you probably spend on lunch.

“We see this as a model that could increase economic opportunities for people in developing countries,” said Lomas, part of a team that’s trying to develop a $12 computer at this month’s MIT International Development Design Summit. “If you just know how to type, that can be the difference between earning $1 an hour instead of $1 a day.”

Jeremy and I were talking around this issue last night. He sent me a link to an article that claims that the OLPC’s a con, because it was never about constructionism. I find the notion silly. Constructionism as it was developed (not used) was based on using technology, so the two are wedded. Also, it is MIT, so of course it has to have a toy attached. And bowing in to allow for Microsoft to take it over is just fate. Apple offered their OS for free, but were denied, I’m told, because they wouldn’t open source everything. So now they pay for Microsoft. Hubris crushes all.

To me, the OLPC/XO was never the point. Julia D and I have talked for years about Zero Cost Computing before the OLPC came a long… so it was fun to watch someone do all the work. Sure they’ve failed in a pretty spectacular way. Sure it was an hegomonizing act of technology and pedagogy. But it sure was neat! They tried and have failed. Now more people can try, and fail less. This AppleII group is cool because it is a geek project. OLPC tried to be other than geek, but couldn’t pull it off. I’d like to see a proper educatator’s project some day too.

What is best about all this, is that any time you disrupt the corporate culture, even just a little bit, the world becomes an infinitely bit more human.

jason: jason (Default)

Originally published at Lemmingworks. You can comment here or there.

JuliaD has a post about the JhaiPC which is doing from a bottom up perspective what the OLPC is doing from the top down. She and I have been following them for a while, her more than me, and it will be nice to compare the two projects. JhaiPC uses much more local input and technology, which is also a plus. there is the Jhai PC:

Before the OLPC, there was the Jhai PC, which gets regular billing on this blog because it was designed with and for a specific community (with input from the community) and then redesigned for others… I have never used one, but I am a fan of the model.

see Welcome to the Jhai Foundation

jason: jason (Default)

Originally published at Lemmingworks. You can comment here or there.

Two bits of interesting information. Intel leaving OLPC seems strange. I can’t imagine that OLPC would be crazy enough to demand a monopoly or foolish enough to not think that intel could support the project, so there must be something more involved. I’m not mindlessly pro-OLPC, since I’ve not gotten mine yet and there are social, cultural and pedagogical issues with any piece of technology from blackboard to textbooks to technology that must be considered. Which leads me into the next point. Digital divide? Even the term is problematic, to me, and to I think many others interested in education and social justice issues. Do I have to list the issues in calling it a divide? Na. You can look it up. There will be a test.

OLPC News: Intel Leaves OLPC Board Over Classmate Sales: “Sadly, this spat has ended hopes for a Diamondville XO Laptop, which could have born the best of both worlds: Intel focused on selling laptops, OLPC focused on changing education.”
Access? Open source? Rethinking the digital divide

Rethinking the digital divide - now that’s a mighty big agenda, especially in the context of attempts to increase access to learning technology for a range of disadvantaged individuals across the globe….
The ALT conference will focus on the following dimensions:

  1. Global or local - What are the dichotomies between global and local interests in, applications of and resources for learning technology?
  2. Institutional or individual - How can the tensions between personal and institutional networks, and between formal and informal content, be resolved?
  3. Pedagogy or technology - How do we prevent the enthusiasms of developers from skewing development away from the needs of learners and are pedagogic problems prompting new ways of using technology?
  4. Access or exclusion - How can learning technology enable access rather than cause exclusion?
  5. Open or proprietary - Can a balance be struck, or will the future be open source and open access?
  6. Private or public - What are the respective roles of the private and public sectors in the provision of content and services for learning?
  7. For the learner or by the learner - How can technology empower learners and help individuals take ownership of learning?

The closing date for submissions of full research papers is 29 February 2008. Full details of the ALT conference are available at: ALT-C 2008: Rethinking the digital divide ALT-C 2008, the 15th International Conference of the Association for Learning Technology

jason: jason (Default)

Originally published at Lemmingworks. You can comment here or there.

The Hindu: The year when computers finally reach kids
talks about the variety of options including OLPCs that are making the rounds in india, as well as the social and political issues of getting technology into the hands of children.

OLPC News: OLPC India’s XO Laptop Cow Power Dynamo talks about powering OLPCs from a “Cow Power Dynamo, built from old Fiat parts and a few belts and pulleys [as] an amazing example of local innovation that we should all celebrate.” With video links:

Rik has a post that compares the emate to the XO: XO Laptop versus Apple eMate. I’ve got 2 emates, so this was interesting to see.

Joe Barr has an interesting take, from a Linux perspective, a lot more technical, but also more of a sense of how cooooool it is, imho: Linux.com :: Hands-on with the OLPC XO laptop — and loving it

At eBiquity, they’re talking about how to make computer science more relevant with the olpc: One Laptop Per Child could make Computer Science more relevant, in response to the decline in the number of people going into computer science.

My fav for the day is from the UN’s IRIN article NIGERIA: Laptops-in-schools debate turns messy:

Nigeria’s new education minister, Igwe Aja-Nawachuku, told the BBC recently that he found the project questionable given the absence of basic equipment in many Nigerian schools. “What is the sense of introducing one laptop per child when they don’t have seats to sit down and learn, when they don’t have uniforms to go to school in, when they don’t have facilities?”

Of course, since Nigeria’s oil rich, it should have provided the basics first, and should still do that. But if you look at Nigeria’s political system with how the oil wealth is distributed, I get the sense that there would not be much interest in sharing access to information and communication very widely to a group of people who have been left out of the distribution of wealth, and probably will be left out for a long time.

jason: jason (Default)

Originally published at Lemmingworks. You can comment here or there.

This is a great little article on OLPC: OLPC struggles to realize ambitious vision - washingtonpost.com. It highlights what I’ve always thought was a flaw in the program: organizing the project through governments. I know there are many people working with governments who have vision and insight, JuliaD comes to mind, but in general the institution of government is beset by LCD mentalities (lowest common denominator). In Ontario we used to have the Unisys Icon computer
(Unisys ICON - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia); a technology that kept me out of educational computing until it died and went away. The article notes how windows/intel is selling when OLPC is not. And why? Some references note that teaching people with windows will help them enter the workforce faster… no doubt getting them into service positions that will soon marginalize them. The old adage to give someone a fish and you feed them for a day, teach someone to fish and you feed them for life fits with information technology. Teach someone to use a program and you forever enslave them to a system. Teach someone to program and you free them to create new worlds. I think OLPC scares governments because they’re profoundly ignorant of technology. I think OLPC excites people who are not ignorant of technology because they can see the potential to disrupt a hegemonic system of control over information and technology. There’s no question, I do not think that the OLPC is perfect. I’m no evangelist. OLPC smacks of MIT hubris, and I don’t mind them getting smacked down because of it. I will take MIT’s hubris over Microsoft/Intel’s any day (though I’d take either of their support or funding for my projects, to be honest).

JuliaD and I (and others) talked about zero cost computing for a number of years, and it is still a goal: create a computer that can be dropped from an airplane (delivering more crucial aid such as water purification tools and shelter), frozen, left in the sun, rained on, etc. Ensure that it will function in someone’s own first language, even if they are not literate in that language. And it should cost nothing, relatively speaking.

It is a goal. OLPC is a step in the right direction. The other alternatives I’ve seen are a step backwards. That’s about all I have to say about it.

jason: jason (Default)
Saw this on Slashdot | Tamil Nadu (India) Shutting the Door On Microsoft: linux: Tamil Nadu (India) may shut door on Microsoft: “The Tamil Nadu government, which is on a fast-track pushing the state to the top in the Indian IT sector, has almost shut its door on the software giant, Microsoft, preferring the Open Source Systems (OSS) for reasons of costs and easy migrating capabilities.”

This may be a ‘greater good’^tm than my post on OLPC, because local choice is central. Though how much choice is open to question. It is relative though, and I’m curious about Open Source Software.

jason: jason (Default)

Ex-Lemmingworks. ##.

Jeremeanie started me thinking again with Too many topics, too little time. » This note’s for you » One Laptop Per Child? about the One Laptop Per Child issue, and then I found this on SlashDot below. I think what’s bugging me is that old standard of ‘what was good enough for me is good enough for everyone’ nonsense. When was our modern notion of the child invented. I’ve heard it variously put as post war, turn of the century, early 19th C or beginning of the industrial revolution. And this has nothing to do with whether we loved children or not. Point: how we see children is socially constructed and open to change. Secondly, technology for children is also not eternal, and will change, just look at the history of children’s books. Personally, I think TV was a bad thing because it opened up children to advertising, aside from the notions of what the CRT does to the brain. Point: children are already wedded to produced content and current technologies of the time.

As with most everything, people think that what they grew up with is the norm, and befores and afters are somehow unenlightened.

I don’t know if the OLPC project is a good thing. It definitely bugs me for its lack of transparency and inclusivity, and the hegemonic air about it. Perhaps I’m just out of the loop and everything’s kosher, but who knows.

I do know that there’s no validity in the status quo argument at all.

I’ll wait to see what happens.

Slashdot | OLPC’s UI To Be Kid-Tested In February
“The AP is reporting that kid testing of Negroponte’s ‘$100 Laptop’ starts in February. This article is some of the first mainstream coverage of just how different the user interface of the XO Computer is — it ditches the traditional office metaphors in favor of a ‘neighborhood’ and an activity-based journaling approach. Video of Sugar, as the UI is called, has been out on the net for a while, and Popular Science recently gave the color / monochrome display a ‘Grand Award’ in its 2006 technology roundup. What do you think of this new UI?”

Related links:
Low-cost laptop could transform learning - Yahoo! News

YouTube - Slightly better demo of the OLPC User Interface

PopSci’s Best of What’s New 2006

jason: jason (Default)

Ex-Lemmingworks. ##.

The $100 laptop: What went wrong - MSN Money is an interesting article. Though JuliaD and I have talked for years about the notion of ZeroCostComputing, and we ever had a blog on this topic for a while (follow that link!), we have never been mindless technopositivistic ethusiasts. Access to safe drinking water and basic global education for women were the two things the OECD cited as first steps in dealing with the digital divide, back when we were allowed to use the term digitial divide (see OECD. 2000. Learning to Bridge the Digital Divide, Schooling for Tomorrow. Paris: OECD Publications). Here’s my review of it in ET&S [4(1)] Unpacking Transnational Policy: Learning to Bridge the Digital Divide. Anyway, in general a free computer to everyone on the planet it interesting. The tool is cool. And there are many massively problematic issues involved. But that’s interesting is that this article is publishe din MSN Money. MSN isn’t part of this. I’ve read the M$ does not like open source. I wonder how much big computing, like big oil and big tobacco is willing to thumb the nose at doing something good (Gate’s work on aids in africa is not part of this debate of course) useful when it might get in the way of a little well planned out hegemony. But that’s just my personal opinion on it.

jason: jason (Default)

Ex-Lemmingworks. ##.

Rochelle’s got a wonderful post up (Random Access Mazar » MLearn: One Laptop Per Child) and a bunch of others from the MLearn conference in Banff. JuliaD and I have been talking about zero cost computing pretty much since when we met, and watching the MIT One Laptop Per Child project has been interesting. Rochelle has brought up many of the questions we have had, and added some from the Librarian’s perspective as well.

Introducing computers and digital technology into a new environment always SHOULD make one think about what is missing, what must be taken away, and what is lost, MORE than what is merely gained. Debates that can answer the should we or shouldn’t we do this in a definite clear manner are pretty useless to me personally. The question is more that of seeing that it is going to happen, how do we maximize valuing of what is presently there so that what we add is additive rather than destructive. I’m happy to see the debate from as many perspectives as possible.

jason: jason (Default)

Ex-Lemmingworks. ##.

JuliaD never gives up on her love/hate relationship with technology for developing environments, blogging now about:

Yet another example of the rugged hardware out there available for use to linking up rural places and places under conflict and stress. It actually sounds like it has all the compoents I’ve been looking out for to do a project.

WorldChanging: Tools, Models and Ideas for Building a Bright Green Future: An Interview with Inveneo notes:

Inveneo.org is a nonprofit that connects the most cut-off people in the world–they provide communication technology to people in developing regions or disaster zones which lack the infrastructure for normal telephone and internet connections. Their connections have helped rural villages spawn business, hurricane victims get aid, even helped the sick cure themselves by talking with doctors.

jason: jason (Default)

Ex-Lemmingworks. ##.

Slashdot | Solar Wi-Fi To Bring Net to Developing Countries

“TreeHugger.com has an article today on a new wifi development organization: MIT and the UN have teamed up to provide kids living in the world’s least developed nations $100 laptops, their 2 watts of juice provided by hand or foot crank. Cool, but… what’s a computer without internet access? Enter Green Wi-Fi, a non-profit that seeks to provide ‘last mile internet access with nothing more than a single broadband internet connection, rooftops and the sun.’ Their wi-fi access nodes, which consist of a small solar panel, a heavy-duty battery, and a router, can be linked together to extend one internet connection into a larger network. The two guys who started the company - Bruce Baikie and Marc Pomerleau - happen to be veterans of Sun Microsystems. Deployment is set to start in India at the end of this summer.”

And this comes after India said that they weren’t interested in the $100 laptops. But anyway. It really isn’t that new. JuliaD and I used to blog about experiments like this, in Laos I think, a number of years back, but times have changed, and it is time to see this in wider deployment. Strangely enough, it would also work for cottagers.

jason: jason (Default)

Ex-Lemmingworks. ##.

ScienCentral Video News: Super Battery

Ever wish you could charge your cellphone or laptop in a few seconds rather than hours? As this ScienCentral News video explains, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are developing a battery that could do just that, and also might never need to be replaced. …Joel Schindall and his team at M.I.T. plan to make long charge times and expensive replacements a thing of the past–by improving on technology from the past. They turned to the capacitor, which was invented nearly 300 years ago. Schindall explains, “We made the connection that perhaps we could take an old product, a capacitor, and use a new technology, nanotechnology, to make that old product in a new way….”

jason: jason (Default)
therobocop.jpgThese days, the most common problem with computer chips is their power consumption. Apple reportedly left IBM because Big Blue could not figure a way to get a cool-enough-running G5 into a PowerBook. So, research has turned to using the human body as a medium for data transfer. At the International Solid State Circuits Conference, researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology modified an iPod nano to use a human finger to complete the circuit, powering the little guy’s headphones so long as contact remained. Most of these chips are at this point just research topics and are in no way ready for prime time, but if this conference is any indication, we may be headed toward a world where your very person is all the battery power you would ever need.

Chips that really get under your skin [CNet News.com]

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