Ethan Zuckerman’s online home, since 2003

Go buy an OLPC XO laptop. Er…, I mean, go buy two OLPC XO laptops…

I’ve had the date on my calendar for weeks now. I’d meant to get up early in the morning and get one of the first orders in, but frankly, sleeping in seemed like a higher priority. But at 9am today, I placed an order for a One Laptop Per Child XO machine under the G1G1 program – Give One, Get One.

It took about 30 seconds, and the order was confirmed by PayPal – $423.95 including shipping, with the vague promise that they’d hope to get me a machine before Christmas, and an acknowledgement that $200 of the money I’d paid is a charitable contribution to support the purchase of XO laptops for use in the developing world.

I guess I’d been expecting an iPhone-level of excitement about the release of the OLPC machine to the general public. Obviously, my tech for development geek friends are pumped – Wayan Vota, the founder of OLPC News, is quoted as speculating that the 25,000 laptops promised in this release will sell out. Wayan’s doing his part to make that happen, offering information on a shipping forwarder who will allow OLPC machines to be purchased by people outside of North America, the only place the machine is currently offered for sale. Peter Glaskowsky at Cnet’s news blog was up early as well placing his order, and noted that OLPC isn’t promising any service for the machine, encouraging owners to found a community and support each other in using the machine.

I guess I’m used to the idea that developments I’m interested in don’t always capture the interest of the mainstream technology community. While Slashdot has a brief piece on the release of the machine, I couldn’t find it on the top pages of Digg or Reddit. I suspect there will be more excitement when folks start getting the machines, perhaps with the sorts of disassembly posts that accompanied the release of the iPhone. (Should be easier with the XO, which is designed to be taken apart…)

My basic hope is that getting machines into the hands of tech reviewers should end some of the predictable snark about the OLPC project and get people talking about the real potentials and problems of these machines. Gizmodo has another predictable “I’ve never been to a developing country, so I’ll make jokes about it” post about XO machines shipping with a copy of SimCity: “If EA would donate their other property, The Sims, these kids can also practice cooking on a stove, cleaning an overflowing sink, and getting a career as a rockstar—things they can’t actually do in real life because they live in a Third World country.”

Right. Let’s not even begin to debunk that particular piece of misinformed, elitist bullshit, and suggest that putting machines into the hands of people in the geek community will help people understand how powerful and novel these machines are and get them involved with developing useful tools and content for the machines.

10 Responses to “Go buy an OLPC XO laptop. Er…, I mean, go buy two OLPC XO laptops…”

  1. Cos says:

    I got burned by their use of paypal. I ‘saved up’ for my XO Laptop by paying several bills early and overpaying others, so that I wouldn’t have a problem spending $400 off my next paycheck on this. I was expecting to put the XO on my credit card, to pay for at the end of the month. But they use paypal, my paypal account is linked to my bank account, and I just brought my balance way down by paying all those bills, so now I don’t feel comfortable debiting another $400. Ugh!

  2. Justin says:

    Wow, the Gizmodo ‘humor’ in that link is…lacking.

  3. Ethan says:

    Cos, they take credit cards as well. Go buy one and be happy… :-)

  4. Cos says:

    I don’t think they do, not directly. They seem to take credit cards through paypal. But if I already have a paypal account and it’s linked to my bank account, I don’t think there’s any way for me to tell it to draw the money from my credit card instead of my bank account. Actually, maybe I can pretend to not have a paypal account… though I’d have to be careful to use a credit card I’ve never linked to a paypal account, and I don’t know if I have one of those…

    If laptopgiving.org has a direct “pay by credit card” somewhere, I can’t find it.

  5. Cos says:

    BTW, last week I sent an email around the office about this upcoming OLPC sale, and our Boston editor posted it as an “Editor’s Pick” event for this week. If you go to http://boston.going.com/ it’s right on the front page.

    Our views counter only counts members with accounts who view an event (yeah, counterintuitive, I know). Almost 200 of them have viewed it so far.

  6. steph says:

    Not that anyone needs more motivation to purchase the OLPC laptop (sorry, 2 laptops), but the free wifi for a year at any t-mobile hotspot is also a nice something extra, in case folks are more interested in maintaining their mobile (i.e., starbucks) offices than in global technology evangelism…

  7. Justin says:

    steph, that is a nice bonus!

  8. quixote says:

    I’m in California, and I set the alarm for 2:45 am so as to be sure not to miss out on my very own Green Machine.

    I never thought I’d see the day when I was geekier than Ethan! ;-)

    As for the doofuses who can’t understand the use of a laptop among “kids without sinks” (Jeeee-sus!), I saw the perfect comment at the end of a sometimes-funny post by FakeSteveJobs:

    “Right, wrong, stupid or genius… I’m just human. I want STUFF and THINGS. …

    “I say, This OPLC thing could work for everyone. These 3rd world kids don’t want food. What kinda fun is bowl of UN air-dropped mush? They want stuff. Give them a Laptop. …

    “I want me an OLPC. I don’t have any stuff like that yet…”

    What kind of fun is a bowl of mush? I want an OLPC.

    Exactly.

  9. Ed says:

    Just ordered mine! (I mean, I just ordered one for my six-year old son…) And cos, I was in the same boat as you. I just ignored the login and opted for the credit card payment. Paypal noticed my email of course, and suggested I log in to use my Paypal funds, but I continued on obstinately and they took the money off my card without further ado.

    Now, I want the laptop! (I mean, I hope it gets here in time for Christmas. My son wants the laptop.)

  10. techzoneX says:

    great, let me try to cover this in my blog :)

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