The good part: I got to hang out with Chris Lydon for an hour, live, on the air on Radio Open Source. The topic was the One Laptop Per Child project, and Chris and I goofed around a prototype of the machine in the studio while we waited for Walter Bender and Wayan Vota to join us. It was a good conversation – the four of us could have easily gone for another hour – and I’m glad that we didn’t obsess over the questions that have already been answered, like whether it’s possible to engineer a robust machine at such a low cost. Even Wayan, who’s built a reputation as a fierce critic of the project admits that the technology in the laptop is “clock-stopping hot”.
Talking to David Miller, producer of this episode of the show, ahead of time, he mentioned that many people he talks to about OLPC appear to be “schizophrenic” about the device. In other words, many of the critics of the project are deeply impressed by aspects of the technology. And those of us who are deeply enthusiastic about the project have deep misgivings about whether enough groundwork has been done preparing classrooms, teachers and governments to use, maintain and eventually dispose of the devices.
Laurie Rowell does a good job of capturing this tension in her article on Elearnmag.org. Declaring “something has gone radically right here” in the design of a radically new machine, she goes on to recount some of the critiques of the machine by Richard Stallman and by yours truly. But, like our radio show last night, she clearly comes out a fan of the project and the device.
I’m glad that I couldn’t see well enough to see into the control room durinng the show. Evidently several superstars of the public radio world were watching as we recorded – the Integrated Media Associated conference is taking place in Boston this week and radio geeks from around the country were dancing to a cover band upstairs at WGBH while we recorded downstairs. Guess we were more interesting than reinterpretations of Journey’s greatest hits…
The show’s available here in mp3 format. Thanks for letting me be a part of it, Chris.