Our Friend the Computer

One Laptop Per Child (Edu-Computers)

March 10, 2023 Our Friend the Computer Season 1 Episode 17
Our Friend the Computer
One Laptop Per Child (Edu-Computers)
Show Notes Transcript

Ana introduces the One Laptop Per Child scheme which auspiciously deployed millions of laptops to children in the Global South between 2005 - 2014. The girls discuss the impacts of the campaign, whether the charismatic idea of “fixing the world” via access to digital literacy actually translated to reality, the issues with constructivism, while analysing Morgan G. Ames’ study in Paraguay from her book “The Charisma Machine: The Life, Death, and Legacy of One Laptop per Child”. They kick things of with chatting about Camila’s online residency and Ana’s street demonstration.

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Main research for the episode was done by Ana who also audio edited.
Music by Nelson Guay (SoundCloud: fluxlinkages)

OFtC is a sister project of the Media Archaeology Lab at the University of Colorado at Boulder.  

- Ames, Morgan G., “The Charisma Machine: The Life, Death, and Legacy of One Laptop per Child”, 2019, The MIT Press
- “The Charisma Machine: The Life, Death, and Legacy of One Laptop per Child, By Dr. Morgan G. Ames”, UNC African Studies Center, 2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCeaQUPaze4
- Robertson, Adi, "OLPC's $100 laptop was going to change the world — then it all went wrong", 2018, The Verge, https://www.theverge.com/2018/4/16/17233946/olpcs-100-laptop-education-where-is-it-now
- “Nicholas Negroponte Interview - One Laptop per Child (OLPC)”, 2007, OLPCFoundation, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o97UD78s6iM
- Cortés, Mariana Ludmila, “OLPC Announces Partnership with Zamora Teran Foundation”, Laptop.org, 2015, http://blog.laptop.org/2015/09/03/olpc-announces-partnership-with-zamora-teran-foundation/#.ZAjnmezP3n4

Hi. Welcome to our friendly computer, where we explore niche computer histories from around the globe. And we are now a sister project of the Media Archeology lab at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I am Camila. I'm here with Ana. How are you, Ana? Hello. I'm good. It's been actually a bit of a hectic day. We didn't even talk about this before we started pressing record, But, yeah, it's been kind of an insane printing for me. What's happening? We just talked for, like, an hour and a half, and. I know, but we didn't. We like, I basically this demonstration happened outside of my house this morning and there's a local pub and it's like a, it's like a queer pub, LGBTQ, Perth pub, and they do like drag nights. And it was targeted recently by this like far right group called Turning Point UK. And they were going to come up and like do a demonstration there. So we did like a counter kind of community demo to them and like, like hundreds of people showed up and it turned a little bit like violent at some point because I was like at the, at the front and I was like pushed around a lot by the police and then the person next to me got like, arrested and beaten up. So it was like it was a bit of a crazy thing. And then I really needed to use the toilet. So I had to, like, run home and but I was initially quite shaken up. I was there with a friend and then like a couple of hours later I went because I went for like a little walk before we started the session, before we started recording and and I went past and it was like gone. The entire demo was gone. And there was like and the sun was shining and people were in the pub like, chatting and laughing and it seemed like it turned out okay. But like when, when the numbers of bodies were very high, the police were getting very anxious and they were like trying to get catalysts and they were just being really horrible and obviously just protecting the the fascists that came. And they didn't tell them to leave. They didn't tell them to move, but they were telling us to move because we just had a bigger number. So yeah, it was just like got me very mad about the police as always. But it was also nice to see like a really good turnout from the community. But yeah, that's what happened this morning. It's kind of crazy. Well, I'm glad you're okay, and I'm glad that everyone seems probably. Yeah, that that pub is. I think so. And it's just open and operating like normal. Yeah. No, it's definitely good. We I think we succeeded. I just. I know that there was like a bit of violence from the police, and the person next to me definitely got arrested because they were like, we found a knife on him. This was one of you, you know, this is what you're fighting for. And we're just like. So many kind of things to unpack in that. But yeah, just. Well, thanks for being here. Thanks also for. But yeah, how. How are you? It's been a crazy week for you. Yeah, I mean, not like that, but no, but energy wise and similar things. Yeah. I've been doing a a residency this week. It's like a digital residency. So we meet in, like a digital space could gather and yeah, it's about digital performance, but it was every day this week and it's, I think ten people from around the world, but it is sort of based in Germany. So like the people running out of there and quite a few people in Europe or in Africa. So it's like a similar time zone. And then I think there's the I'm the only one in the United States. There was somebody in Peru, which is the same time zone at the moment. And then there were there was a group of two that were in Australia actually, but it meant that we all three of us had kind of a bad time zone. So I think Australia was like 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. or something. But my time zone started at 6 a.m. every day and I have not been sleeping because I have been keeping late hours lately anyway. And then I was trying to go to sleep by like midnight, which meant I was only getting like or 5 hours sleep and having to kind of get up and go straight into really intense work, which is intense. And in a couple of ways, I guess it's like I just intense. Like a residency of this style would always be where it's like you're having lectures and you're doing workshops and having to be very creative and on and responsive and you're kind of making work. The idea is that you're sort of opening up your mind to different forms of making work and different ideas. And, you know, it's not as simple as maybe just being like, I'm going to go to the studio and like, make some work. It's it's not my normal way of thinking or doing. So it's like very it's like more mental load. But then also just being on on screen constantly, like on the computer for, I mean, like using eye drops and just go Yeah. And, and just being Yeah, I agree. I notice that by Thursday most people were having this, their cameras off. Yeah. What. And I was trying hard at the start to have my camera on but yeah, by the end of the week I was, I was getting exhausted of like being watched. Yeah. So yeah, when you're having these digital hangout sessions, like, you have to be really switched on mentally because it's not the normal way that you would talk to someone and you kind of like, Yeah, have to have to navigate that in more of an intensive way, especially if you've got your camera on all the time. Like, yeah, it's got that kind of watched aspect to it. Yeah. It's also harder to, it's like really hard to read social cues. So, you know, quite a large group. I think it was like 12 when we had the two people that were running it with us and just trying to kind of, you know, they're trying to facilitate group discussions and, you know, knowing when to chime in. And some people's Internet wasn't as good. So, you know, they would maybe drop out and come back and you have to like give a little bit more space for some people to speak because they're they can't just jump in really quickly because they're intense, a little slower and stuff. And so there's kind of that aspect. But also like the aspect of, I don't know, I feel like I've it feels very not performative and that it's fake. It's just that I have to I find myself kind of upping my level of energy out. Yeah. So I can so the person speaking can feel like they're getting some sort of response that the program we used had little like emoji responses that I would use. But it was really funny to like, you know, you know, that idea of I mean, I think maybe it's less now, but when it first was happening that like LOL and so you would like type lol but then your face you're not laughing. It felt a little like that, but it was kind of confronting to see me putting like confetti, confetti, love, hot love out of my face is just dead, you know? But like it's I don't feeling like that. It's so, isn't it how like because of this proximity issue where you're not in the same space, you have to really up your levels of engagement to kind of get the message across like it's there you. Yeah. And I kept telling myself, like, I don't have to. Like I was looking at other people and they said that everybody was doing that. Other people just like they were just there, you know, they didn't have a screen on. But I don't know. I always feel like I need to be like, super engaged. Yeah, but I respect. No, it's not about respect. It's just like I want to be present and that's the way I do that. But for like hours and hours and hours a day, it's it's just a lot. You would think that other people are not as self-conscious, but in most cases they probably also are quite conscious about how they should be acting in front of a camera. It's always a very unnatural thing to do. Yeah, So yeah, I've been doing that like at least you got a minor lying. But I'm excited about, you know, I got out of bed because I'm excited about this episode. We talked sort of I mentioned briefly last week, or actually probably not briefly, I'll mention briefly now that I went to this exhibition at MoMA and yeah, and I saw this computer and we've seen this computer before. We saw it at the WHO Center for Computing History. It was that one. Yeah. And you told me about it. You were like, That's that laptop. That's that laptop and laptop per child. I was excited about the future episode. And then when I saw it, I saw I was like, I saw that laptop in my mind that you said, You're going to be doing it. So I'm I'm thrilled to hear more about it because to be honest, I thought this was like a heartwarming, beautiful story. And then I looked at your notes and I realized perhaps that may not be the case. You know, I mean, it is on the outside, and I'm sure it did bring a lot of good things to the world. But I think it's quite revealing in terms of just how pure like how the structure of like tech funding and how it's not it doesn't really work, especially not in the long term, but yeah, I, I saw this laptop in a couple of museums, not just computer museums, but also the Design museum that here in London, they have it on display on like their main permanent exhibition. So I actually plan to go see it and then I totally forgot and I didn't see it in person, but I don't think the plaque would have told me that much anyway. But yeah. So what was your experience with it in MoMA? It was just in a train, you know, It was just like COVID. It wasn't something that they let you play with. And it was early on, I think it was near. They had like the first iPod, and I think it was near that one. Yeah. And then the it was about video games, I think. Okay. From memory. Oh, that's interesting. I think, oh, it kind of moved through other or maybe it's like interactive media. Yeah, Internet computers and stuff like that. But they also had the drawings of like the first Apple icons and, and they had the app symbol. Do you know they have the app symbol in their collection now. So I think it was on the wall with that. It was like the iPod, the app symbol and the one one like one child. Oh, I actually want to know the history about that symbol. I don't know anything about that. That could be a good one. But yeah, I mean, I guess given how frequently we've noticed the laptop, I feel like we finally, you know, come to this episode that we've both been waiting for a while. And I'm glad you're excited about it because I guess it sort of represents a little bit or it represents what we've been talking about quite often because, you know, since this show is about tracking down sort of overshadowed histories about computing and the Internet, it's also because of this, it's also about the kind of entire progression of computing development that can only occur across the globe and not just in the U.S. or around the U.S.. So sometimes this also means that we have to look at projects that have failed in the U.S. and can be seen in how it's like exposed this this accepted tone that like computer history is us based, which it really isn't. Yeah, I think that what's been sort of eye opening for me is that when we started we were sort of looking for stories that were kind of tech histories or projects that were started in other countries and then got like superseded by more like the American United States kind of story of the. Yeah, it is. But what we have discovered is that there's also this other aspect of either like the implications of U.S. tech progress on other countries or projects that a U.S. based that affect other countries directly, like things like this, I guess, which it's like a U.S. based project. But it wasn't for U.S. consumption, right? It was like made for to like impact these other countries. Um, the something else I just wanted to add really quickly about this, that was maybe the reason that I thought that it was like a heartwarming story is that it's a really cute computer and it's very colorful. And I think that's kind of interesting that I automatically just was like, Oh, it must be like, adorable. Must be good. Yes, exactly. Well, that that was totally that's like part of their entire shtick is that kind of anthropomorphism of that and the cuteness of it and how it's supposed to represent the cuteness of the project and the kind of charming aspect of it. Yeah, Yeah. This is a very good example of what we, what you just talked about and this is the the one laptop per Child project. So this was a nonprofit initiative that developed easy to make and use laptops specifically aimed at children in schools in the Global South. And the fact that it was aimed at, you know, the Global South specific is a little questionable, I think, because, I mean, first of all, like there's there's places in the global north that need laptops just as much. And I think I guess what they were maybe trying to say was like developing countries. But again, that is a very outdated term as well because, I mean, you know, it's like developing Under what criteria exactly? I guess it's like you could you could kind of argue that developing countries like developing economically is a good way to put it. But again, it's sort of like, is that really what what we're trying to look at here and how exactly do you measure and the happiness index, how is that like how does that correlate to economic wealth of a country anyway? I mean, I think that it's like for me the concern is like, why are they doing this? Because it's I think, you know, it's it's a to sort of be like, oh, there's this whole sort of there's like areas of the world that don't have access to technology and maybe they're getting like left behind in terms of like tech in the Internet and education because I know, you know, there's so much work around education, particularly like getting young women to be go to school and and that does help with like economic mobility and things and is really important. But yeah, like I'm I you know, we don't know yet. I guess you're telling us that you know who is making this and why and is it it's not it's not for profit but it's what is that what you know, I guess I'm interested to hear what their intention what their intention totally is, because I and who they thought this last year was a little bit. Yeah. But also yeah this is exactly yeah. Yeah. I mean at least they didn't use the term, you know, third world countries. So I mean what, what years, what era is this so early. 2000. Okay. I mean I get you know, those term that that term is not great. Like I wouldn't use it now but yeah right And it's over time. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah I basically like the whole idea of donating these laptops to the Global South specifically. Yeah, I'm sort of generalizing. I think that that was like their first move. Um, but regardless, like their presentation of the initiative, like you said, was very charming. It was quite innocent, It was like quite good natured at its, at its core, it was meant to sort of give kids in the Global South the opportunity to, to work on computers and to, to hack them and play on them and give like an opportunity to kids that they otherwise wouldn't have. But yeah, Morgan G. Ames, who I'll be referencing quite a lot throughout, wrote a book about it, and she sums it up quite well in the title of her book about LPC One Laptop Per Child Problematic Legacy. When she calls the initiative and the laptop as well, she calls it the charisma machine. So who, who, who made it like who with who funded it? Who who are these people that sort of charismatic? Yeah. So One Laptop Per Child was a project aimed to make like this low cost machine to production, which became the OPC XO laptop. Xo X No, XO that could be distributed very, very easily, kind of across the globe. And the laptop was funded by member organizations such as AMD, eBay, Google, the Marvel Technology Group and News Corp and Nortel. I think there were like four main funders, but one of them was like Quanta, and they provided this like, yeah, funding support. This is a massive, a massive group. That's yeah, that's really a lot of really big company. They were hustling y like the amount of conferences I won't even like get into. But the people that they had on board that were the spokespeople were quite big. So the project starts off with this very kind of like, like I said, very strong idea of like technological determinism, you know, that like technology can fix the world. If you give access to these machines, it will kind of solve everything. And Nicholas Negroponte, who is the project's co-founder and kind of pretty much like a spokesperson, would famously say in all of these conferences and talks that, you know, when they were like pitching this idea to get the funding and to to to to to release it into the world, he would say, I don't want to place too much on OLPC, but if I really had to look at how to eliminate poverty, create peace and work on the environment, I can't think of a better way to do it. Wow. You check this out a bit. At a 2007 PC Foundation talk. It's on YouTube. And so after this project was really like aim to like, you know, crush poverty and take the world back by enabling like constructionist learning and bringing the world's knowledge to all children. This this feels a little like so I live in New York and we have the U.N. here and one of my favorite things to do is do the UN tour. I've done that a couple of times, mainly because they have an incredible gift shop. But the U.N. has these like points that they try to I remember how many it was like 12 or something. And it's their really big aims. It's like end poverty in five years. But yeah, and every time they, you know, you get like a different tour guide each time they say different things. But the last time the guy was like, Yeah, look, it's more just like times have you got I think I've done it three times. Amazing. Yeah. So it's like, Oh, this is just like an A, And no matter where we get to on it, it's like going to be a good thing. But it's important to like, say that this big thing, like world peace or whatever, is our goal so we can start at least start making steps towards it. Like it wouldn't be good to be like world peace, but only just like peace for six countries. And then we'll get to the rest of them. You know, you kind of have to think figure to try to like make your way there and it's like good to lay out the goals of what you want in the world. I guess. So this feels a bit like that, like he's going on about like we're going to eliminate poverty, create peace, that the key differences that the UN currently do you know who the spokesperson for these know these points off of the U.N. it is Ban Ki moon No, no, it is It's Hello, Kitty. Really? Uh huh. And there's a real I mean, doing a little project. It's it's yeah, I don't want to go through it, but it's it's. Hello, Kitty. Okay, this is fascinating. We have to delve into this at another time, but. But then things sort of a different. Yeah, true. Very international or little icon. Yeah. Yeah. But yeah I I've heard a lot of things about the U.N. space in New York and how it's like actually a really beautiful place to go to. I think that's why I also like to go. It's like this. Yeah, it really it's just because there's so much space. I know it's really interesting, though. Really crazy. And there's everywhere and you can like, look out over the water and yeah, it's just it's a very open area that is I mean, there's and it's also like completely guarded and you know, there's like you should just I mean, not issues, but for me to be like it's clean and it's open. It's like, oh, that's because of all of these other things that maybe it's not great to like walk past and have all of these like gates and stuff like that. That was like originally, you know, indigenous land and Wasilla is indigenous land. And anyway, there's complications. But I still enjoy going in and. Sure. And you know, there's still there's still like things that happen there that are very important. And like, there's actually there's like, you know, policies that are actually being made and people that actually do shit there. Yeah, So it's a very fascinating place. But yeah, it definitely like reignites this nice, slightly nostalgic idea of the early noughties and how there was this like prevalent liberal idea of like this coexist kind of U.N. heavy like charity projects, you know, like what was it like they and I don't know it's very like early noughties, U.N. esque, which I don't really see that much anymore. But maybe something else has taken over. But again, like, you know, in the 2000s, like this idea of constructionism was also still very, very popular. I mean, I guess is still very much is. But constructionism like came out of the sixties and the sort of definition that I got from Morgan Ames. She said that it's sort of like this the educational theory about children learning most effectively when they're actively doing or constructing things rather than being taught information in a traditional schooling method. So yeah, it's kind of like it was this big pedagogic idea that was very present in the MIT labs at the time, and same where Paper two was the main kind of proponent of this theory and essentially a theorist wrote several books about it and he was kind of convinced that, you know, hacker culture and this and that same type of passion that nerds at MIT had with playing on their computers all night would also be something that children might be able to enjoy as well. So, yeah, this idea of constructionism was very popular and seemed, you know, quite utopian in many aspects like quite easy. You know, you could just build this thing, could build it like a machine, hand it over to a bunch of kids. They'd be able to learn from it. They'd become genius. Kids get really good jobs, be able to solve like problems to do with, I don't know, irrigation or fix the world around them. And yeah, Ames also makes the argument that and I quote, this kind of technical play ended up being attached to Boyhood in particular, and culturally from the 1980s on computer games and computer programing became often something that we'd see boys doing. So again, I didn't grow up in this era, but I can definitely imagine that tech toys were were very much aimed at like boys making their own robots or making their own planes. And girls would play things with like dolls that weren't as sort of deconstructed or it's like teaching instead of teaching tech skills. It's teaching like homemaking skills. Yeah. Samer Papert, who again, like wrote a lot of books about constructionism as well, like he is he is a boy, and a lot of his research was quite subjective and like based on his own early experiences as like a, like a precocious boy who, you know, like to like, tinker around with things and and that technology was really his, like, source of inspiration. So I think there is an interesting kind of analysis there about like what Boyhood meant at the time and or how how Boyhood was defined through technology that was introduced in the early stages of childhood. But yet anyway, in in 2005, that was when OLPC was officially announced. And this was also like two years before the iPhone and before netbooks were popular and Chromebooks existed. So they really thought they were like onto something. Also, before like worldwide long distance learning platforms were where thing like MOOCs. So they really were sort of at like the forefront of educational laptops and like global learning via digital spaces. But yeah, even like the idea of like digital books, which you can kind of carry around with you from class to class and you can experiment, experiment with at home, you can build it yourself, you can build stuff on it. It was meant to be quite revolutionary and that didn't that's never existed before at such a global scale. So in that way, Ames kind of argues that it was very charismatic in terms of how it inspired, you know, utopianism. It inspired like a new world, a digitally literate world. And in terms of how this translated into life, it was a bit messy. She conducted her own studies in Paraguay on how it carried out, which concluded that it basically was extremely difficult to install into a sustainable practice. So that was that was something that Ames did in her research book. Yeah, like something that they originally did. And okay. Know. So, so the laptop, the laptops were distributed to many different places, but she specifically did her case study in Paraguay where she went to the space and she lived there for a couple of months and then was able to like, yeah, just observe how it was, how it was used in the laptop itself was quite flimsy and poorly designed. But what the laptop was really all about here was the kind of symbolism it was that was a lot more important than what it kind of like promised to do. And it was super cute. Yes, it was very cute. Like I said, the anthropomorphic, like delivery was very good. You know, it had like these two little antennas at the top, which kind of like symbolized that. It was like maybe like a dog like dog years. And it was green and white. So it had these kind of like Buzz Lightyear. Yeah. You know, friendly colors and kind of like round and round, very rounded. Yes, but also very durable. Like it was meant to kind of withstand the like roughness of childhood. Yeah. So you can really see that it was charismatic and all of the marketing content, but the idea of like funding schools and teachers was which was what they argued was very like old and adhered to kind of like the state of affairs, you know, and this was just it would just like take too long. And there's all of this like political all these political conversations that come into the forefront that they don't want to deal with. And, you know, bam, here's this object, this technology that's going to change things and it's going to be quick and easy. So like instead of funding the teachers, they're like, let's fund the students directly and Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. So like, we just have to focus on the child here. But that's like, that's like mad, you know? Yeah. Okay, whatever. But, you know, they talking about utopian societies and building stuff out like so much of that is community. Yeah. And absolutely to make it like an individual thing with each child versus like funding a school. Like the school is so much more than just the, the like content that you're given to learn like a school is about the community and the support and outside of the classroom as well, especially. And like small, I imagine some of these like smaller communities and stuff like a school would be such an important part of that and the teachers would be such an important part of that for sure. And I think again, the reason why I think this this project is slightly degrading is that this object kind of hints to the fact that or this campaign like it's the fact that they thought that schools schools in the global South were inefficient, not good enough, and that this technology should, you know, take over and sort of remove or replace. So it's not the kind of systems that they had. It's not looking to support the teachers like within their communities in a way that's like specific to that community. It's like let's like tell them exactly how it is that everybody in the world should be learning and teaching, and that's going to work. Yeah, that's essentially what what the book, The Charisma Machine gets to in the end. Yeah, because the study is quite conclusive in the fact that this laptop has a lot of like software that doesn't include the teacher in it. Anyway, I'll get into that. Yeah. Sorry. I just like very angry very quickly. It's, it's very similar as well. Like how, how the, the technology is like a vehicle for individualization because it's very similar to Apple's like think different marketing campaign at the time. Could you explain that a little bit more. Yeah. So it was like this this campaign where like, you know, if you if you obtain this tech product, you have the ability to really think outside the box and you had the ability to think different than anyone else and you had that freedom and you're kind of liberated in this, in this sense. So again, this like this self-actualization can only be achieved through buying this tech product. MM Very similar to like the think different marketing campaign. And so the tech companies were really like fixated and hyped by the what I would argue is like quite a liberty, an idea of like object fixing the world and liberating us from the professed like constraints of society, you know. But yeah, the problem with again like constructionism as well, is that it comes with all sorts of assumptions about who is able to be that kid and recreate many of the problems and cultural associations with with tech and boyhood. And I think like linking tech with nostalgia as well as something really interesting and kind of makes me think about the way that we also like market this podcast and how we try to make it seem playful too. But it's like, why do we have to constantly make it look cute when. Tt's because it's cute. I know, yeah, it's cute. It's just an interesting thought to, to, to have I was just thinking like, Ana Are we the drama? We're just like doing this tech nostalgia thing. So much of the world right now is into nostalgia and yes and again, it's a it's a charisma tactic. You know, it's to make what you produce more charming and good looking. Yeah, there was a lot of learning games and game engines on it, too. So the software was all open source. So it was it was meant for them to take back home with them, play on it and be sort of like addicted to learning and playing and create this, these like amazing things on it and then come back to class and like show, show what they've made and yeah, the software that they used as well was called Sugar. It was made by them by sugar labs, and it was like this open community run software project. Wow. And it was like their whole kind of like mission was to like produce, distribute and, and support this the use of, of, of sugar the software but in like a very kind of for altruistic projects Mm hmm. Like one laptop per child and yeah there was also a view source button on many things where you could kind of click to reveal how the code was written for many of these interfaces. But there was nothing really in it that like aided teachers in any way. And there was like I said, that this like mesh networking feature which allowed you to connect to other kids around the school through the school server, which again is like kind of designed to alienate the teacher. But also these elements just made the laptop really slow. And so it was it was frustrating for teachers as well. I was thinking back on our episode about the Micro Bee and when we were talking about when computers were going into schools in Australia until like primary schools and that each of the states had their own like early on when, when there wasn't much kind of, you know, there was like a bunch of different computers that were going in. But each state would have like a center that would provide support and help the teachers, like, learn the programs themselves and then try and give some guidance for curriculum and things that at the time, like each state had a different one. And, you know, it was very separate. But I think that yeah, there's like the two things as the tech, but then there's actually like the support systems around teaching. Like you can't just give a bunch of new technology to a group of students and teachers and not provide training. And like the best ways to teach it are the best ways to use it. And to leave that out though, I imagining like this was given to different countries, right? So like maybe those individual countries created like training programs or support systems or something. Many different countries, because every different country is as economically works different and the state funds things differently. They all had very, very different approaches to how the technology was used. Some countries would just give the kids the laptops without any like follow up, without any material for the teachers. Sometimes even they didn't have the infrastructure to to power these laptops. And then with other with other countries like Paraguay, they had very strong initiatives that included teachers in the program. They would they would they had this NGO come in and like teach them how to use it. And then they also built like the technical infrastructure around it. But yeah, in and of itself, the objects didn't include the systems that these schools already had, which is interesting because you think that, you know, they're such a big organization and initiative and they have these like massive goals and they're like, Yeah, okay, this this computer is going to do that. But like they didn't think to develop like a curriculum or a program or something like, I know that's a lot more work, but like they have a lot of money. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. I mean it only the way that the user was thought of in this project was only based on the kid. And not only the kid, but it also idealized the technically precocious boy, the tinkerer, someone that's a little rebellious or like thinks different because it removed in a sense, it removed the teacher. Wow. Yeah. And it also assumed that, you know, computers were naturally alluring and that they're totally removed from like infrastructure and its deficiencies and social deficiencies, which is quite mind boggling to me because yeah, I don't know. This was like, this really was like the predominant tech ideology of the early noughties to think that that tech is very irrelevant to the physical real aspects of life, if you know what I mean. Yeah, this sort of came up in my like online digital residency later this week because, you know, there's like people from around the world, there's like ten of us and, you know, we can kind of make this assumption that we're all experiencing the sort of digital space in the same way and that there is like a normality of, you know, it's like the Internet and things. But the reality is that we all have been experiencing the connection and things in different ways, sort of based on the infrastructure of our cities or of our countries or of how like homes and, you know, we have like a conversation around live streaming. We can do a lot of projects looking not as livestreaming, but like looking at the concept of live streams. And there was somebody that was in the group that was saying that where she was, it wasn't livestreaming wasn't so much of a thing because like Internet was really expensive and like connection being able there was like power outages. So like having a constant connection wasn't something that was like a normal thing that you could rely on. And yeah, what like music streaming was a really big thing there. But yeah, it was sort of like there's, it's interesting to kind of question your own perceptions of of what is there like a standard experience in digital space. Well, there's not, you know. Right, exactly. And how like objects are inherently tied to infrastructure. It's like yeah. And so to like put to just put this like computer, this like laptop into a space without really considering how the infrastructure of that particular place, but also like how people use digital technology based on that, that infrastructure like it's like, you know it's like okay, well live streaming is not a thing in a certain place, but like streaming music is a massive thing because that's just the way that that goes. But to not even like have any kind of context when you're putting the computers into a space for how it might be used and all like all the things that need to be provided to to help, if you have some goal, you know, it's like, yeah, I don't know. It seems wild to me. Yeah, it's very wild. And it's funny you say that because Negroponte, who is the spokesperson of the of the project and the entire marketing team, they often talked about aiming for LPC to be in Africa using actually really quite problematic language. But actually, with the exception of Rwanda, most of the laptops went to Latin America across central and South America. And this is because the countries tended to be like middle or middle upper income countries which made it possible to put their kind of resources towards this project. Right? So like, even though they were saying, Oh, this is for everyone, this is to get like all the children, no matter where they're from to a certain level, they're actually existed, a level they're required. Yeah. They would require a certain amount of like Yeah. Also like government initiative to like make it possible. And a laptop also costed like a floating price between 100 to $200. This like depended on when the project had good funding, when it didn't and it was sold to governments and the operating system and software is is it was also then localized to the languages of the participating countries. So yeah, the the governments would need to first also just like a that this was like an okay thing to do and all countries had relatively different styles of how they took them up and followed up was very varied and like I said before, and so like for the example of Peru, but roughly a million laptops, but there were was hardly any resources given to these teachers, so not much happened with them. Whereas Uruguay had a similar amount of laptops and continued funding the 1 to 1 computer programs, although they are not involved with oil anymore, and then aims, like I said, focus on Paraguay, who were given only 10,000 laptops but had an NGO called Paraguay, EDUCARE, which was which installed the laptops on site and build the kind of upfront infrastructure to make them work. And all of this was wired by telecom access points. And yeah, they put in their own electrical outlets and plugs and like I said, they also led teacher training programs where they taught them various digital literacy things like email and the internet. And Amy says that around 10% of people in Paraguay at the time had constant access to the Internet. So this was like quite a big thing to teach. And it's also interesting to reflect on like the populist attitude at the time and see the kind of like political tensions of the area of the country that that the project actually revealed because the teachers were on low pay and striked every other Thursday for the rights of benefits and just didn't have the time to like, take this on. Yeah. Although they were convinced by the ethos of the project that the NGO kind of heralded because they they were very vocal, the kind of like idealistic future of these machines and the teachers were, were very much convinced by that and they definitely believed in the project and its and it's good kind of nature. So yeah, the NGO did quite a lot of work to provide help and troubleshooting and other kind of foundation to teaching with the laptops. But even with all of that background effort, the laptops just kept breaking all the time and they weren't very repairable because they required specialized parts that had to be shipped from the states and then there was also the issue of the users interest. Many kids just wanted to play football outside of school or had family obligations, whether that be in care, work or businesses. So they simply weren't that interested. And the laptops, they apparently use them quite frequently to play games. So again, quite interesting. You said that it was in a game exhibition at MoMA, which they learned via other kids or on the Internet. They they could kind of like install players and window environments to like play games on them, but they weren't originally meant to be used for that purpose. So yes, there were some hints of tinkering when it came to retrofitting these machines from playing media, but that's sort of all there really was to it in terms of like the hacking potential and because the machines break ability and it was so software reliant, you just have to update it very frequently, which a lot of kids just didn't have the patience for. I still don't have the patience to figure out exactly, Exactly. And teachers ended up then using the laptops to teach things from the Internet. So that kind of like in Overengineered, oh, a PC object just ended up being used like any other laptop. And in 2008, all PCs annual budget was cut from 12 million to 5 million because it lost funding. It started to lose making and shipping costs and made most staff redundant. But it still would make various partnerships with funders up until 2015. As far as my kind of digging extends. So the old PC laptops still exist and they're kind of now circulating. Yeah, they're still in schools sometimes, but they've lost, they've lost like funding to kind of yeah, support troubleshooting, support repairs and support the distribution of them, the continuous distribution of them. But yeah, what I find really interesting about this case study is what it says about the funding There is a type of futility. What aims calls like it's a is a catch 22 in this inherent funding structure that what is most charismatic to project funders is the quick fix and the handing out of these laptops rather than the kind of social support and the fact that change and progress takes a long time is very unattractive to funders. And so projects pitch themselves in the form of campaigns or fundraisers, something that has like a time limit. But once these aims are not achieved by that deadline, the funding stops and the project is scrapped. So basically, she says that the utopian stories about these initiatives and the way that it is being pitched can actually prevent a technology from being successful, which is a really good argument, I think. So it's like they're not in it for the long haul. Exactly. And they make it quite obvious from from the start, from from the pitching stories when they start getting funding from it, because they're like, this is going to fix everything and it's not going to take a very long time and it doesn't rely on social support, social care, like long term investment. And another thing is like just to take this a little bit further, is that this way of looking at technology, something that can, you know, achieve altruism as this charisma project or resolution is really reflective of how every tech startup or tech product is being marketed today. You know, like this whole ideology of Silicon Valley is that it is like world fixing. And a lot of the a lot of the startups are like based on these kind of like hype trends. What's the hype and well, like hype trends where like this is the new trend that will solve everything or this this previous trend didn't work, so we're trying something new. Okay, So yeah, just this kind of like churn shirt churning out of ideas that are going to be like quick fixes. Yeah, like Band-Aid solutions. And yeah, if there if there's any like skepticism around that concept too, it's like immediately sidelined because you're being essentially immoral. Like it's difficult to be critical of projects like one Laptop per child because like we said in the beginning, you know, it looks on the surface like it's very good natured, but when you kind of break it down, it's you can be critical of it, although I don't think that like it should have never existed. I think it's great that it existed and it came out into the world. But it's also okay to be like skeptical of these things. Yeah, I think that it's like it's okay to be like, Oh, I've got this. We've got we've got these really big goals and we want like to end poverty or whatever they were trying to do. Yeah. And, and to try something and for it not to maybe like it works in some ways, but it doesn't work in. And then to go back and think, okay, well what didn't work? And that's an important step to be able to like do something else that goes towards those goals. Yeah, exactly. And I think also like the determinism around tech, it's quite scary sometimes because it really pushes things into a binary like, you know, you're not a good person if you're critical of things like LPC, it's very difficult to talk about sometimes because it gets quite political and that is exactly what what these tech startups know. They're they're kind of like weaponizing like moral aspect to their business. And, and you know, therefore if anyone criticizes, you're not a good person. And so yeah, there's, there's the problem with technological determinism but also this like imagined user which doesn't sometimes fit into the mess of reality. And in one of her talks, Amy's actually said that the people who finish MOOCs successfully, for example, are disproportionately highly educated men, and it's because they already have all the social support around them that lets them actually succeed. You know, they've got maybe they've got a wife that does all of the like cleaning and cooking or like they they don't do all of that kind of like extra like care work. And again, this is very much like generalizing, but the statistics I think say quite a lot. This makes me feel so much better about not finishing online courses, but I sort of thought, yeah, it's because I didn't support that. There's like a very similar statistics for PhD graduates. I forgot what it was. But yeah, that like it's more likely for a PhD graduate to be a man than it is. Yeah. And the statistic is like actually quite insane. I don't, I don't remember what it was, but, but I think it's especially ironic when it comes to MOOCs because they promise to democratize education for students of all walks of life from all around the world. So yeah, when when Amy's came out with that statistic, I was like, actually quite shocked. But yeah, Anyway, this is this kind of concludes One Laptop Per Child and it's a very, very interesting case study because it it really started off with this charming and positively toned project. And yeah, the results are really interesting to see. I think that's it for me to have for sharing. I'm kind of like a little in shock so that it really Yeah, switched around my I really I guess I didn't really have a I mean, it's funny, I didn't really have an opinion about it. I really know much about it. All I knew was that like we'd seen at some places, you know, like that's that laptop and it's like, that's a cute laptop. It's got little. Yes. And I it was for all the children. Great. Like that must've been good And I kind of I didn't really, like, delve deeper into it because I knew that we were going to be doing this at some point. And yeah, I'm a little bit shocked to hear all the backstory. And yeah, there's also like an environmental aspect to it that I didn't go into with like how much landfill it actually, Oh my gosh, I contributed because a lot of them were just like thrown out and they were really difficult to repair. Like I said, in Breakable and kids would just like lose them. So there's that. Yeah, it's it's interesting how technologies can be very like tone deaf to the political climate, the environmental climate, the social aspect of things. And I'm really interested in how, how other technologies can be quite similar in that sense. Yeah, it's interesting. Like we're doing this little series on computer literacy projects with schools and communities, and it it's funny how like computer literacy needed to be a thing at the time. Yeah, yeah. And like the eighties nineties and now it's not really Well, okay, okay. It's not really something that's needed. But I did say a tick tock. I don't remember. It passed me by in the cloud somewhere where someone was saying that and you might know something about this and with your work that they worked in a like a tech support area of a university and that the they felt that the Gen Z is when not as technically advanced as say like the generations that like the millennials, because the millennials had to learn, they had to like tinker and learn and like experience technology breaking and not working and going through all these different sort of troubleshooting methods. Yeah, but the Gen Z is all the people that kind of grew up with technology and was sort of like had the iPads from when they were young or whatever. They had like a natural ability to work with software but not natural to tinker and fix things. Yeah. Also I guess like technology from that a like era onwards was less like Tinker Bell. It was more the sort of the object digital, maybe digital literacy programs and things should be making a comeback in some way. Ooh, ooh. Yeah. Just really good point of like the eighties nineties where it was important to teach and to play around with like different methods of teaching and to trying get children interested in computers and then like working out how that is helpful for them in their lives. And yeah, no, that's a very good point. And I think that's also where the idea of having just like a variation of technologies that you have access to becomes quite important because I think the fact that it was like a laptop made it quite like unthinkable, you know what I mean? Like especially for kids that are like seven years old, whereas if it would be like a little robot that's just has a chip and a sensor, it's a very different story. It's something that probably kids can fix quite easily. But yeah, thanks for thanks for your input and thanks for sharing with listening. We're not sure what the next episode is going to be. I'm going to do the BBC Literacy Project. I think it's time I asked the big one of the literacy projects. I feel like. So yeah, the Doomsday episode before, which kind of joins in from that. So if you wanted some free listening, you could go back to that episode. Yeah. Kyle Stay tuned, everyone. Everyone, thanks for listening. Oh, drop us subscribe if you have a little some stores you like a review and subscribe Smashed that like button and we'll we'll see you we'll see you next month. Yes by.