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.