So back in 07 we got an XO Laptop, a super-cheap, supposedly indestructible computer designed for use in schools in developing countries. If you bought one, another was sent overseas for a classroom. It was a great idea — promoted by Nicholas Negroponte of MIT and backed by Kofi Annan, then Secretary-General of the UN — for schools that lacked books and supplies. The computers were easily networked and made classroom teaching in disadvantaged communities much easier. Unfortunately, that first generation of laptops was pretty ass. It was not very intuitive (it ran a variant of Linux, but the problem was more the physical layout of the computer, I think) and it was super-frustrating. We’d intended to give ours to the kids, but it was just too buggy and difficult to use. All that said, the company’s OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) program in Haiti is collecting unused XOs for distribution in Haiti. Our friend Joe said he almost felt guilty donating it, because it is such a doody computer…but my husband Jonathan feels that what it DOES manage to do it does well enough to help in a community without physical schools, books, paper, pencils…
So we’re sending ours. And Joe’s sending his. (With reservations.)
Here’s Negroponte’s letter. Please forward hither and yon.
From: One Laptop per Child <email@example.com>
Date: January 26, 2010 11:24:06 PM EST
Subject: OLPC for Haiti: XO Laptop Recovery Program
At the end of 2007 you participated in the Give One Get One program of One Laptop per Child (OLPC). Thanks to you and others like you, 75,000 laptops went to Rwanda, Ethiopia, Mongolia, Cambodia, Oceania, the West Bank, and Haiti.
An additional 75,000 laptops came into the USA as part of the “get” side of the equation. In some cases those laptops have since been put into closets for one reason or another.
We are gathering additional used XO laptops to send to Haiti. If you or the child to whom you gave the laptop is no longer using it, we appeal again to your generosity and ask you to send it to the address below (even if it is broken).
OLPC FOR HAITI c/o Exel
615 Westport Parkway #500
Grapevine, TX 76051
75% of the schools in Port-au-Prince have been destroyed in the recent earthquake, but by good fortune, none of our Haitian team was hurt. They have spare parts and OLPC technical staff and teachers, and stand prepared to deploy these XOs.
Because of the XO’s unique features (sunlight readability, solar powered, water resistant, drop proof), it is also an ideal tool for relief work.
If your XO is in use, please ignore this email. We only want your broken or unused XOs.