[linux-elitists] NYLXS Press Release on the OLPC Project

Ruben Safir ruben@mrbrklyn.com
Sat May 3 08:41:45 PDT 2008

On Mon, Apr 28, 2008 at 02:37:25PM -0400, Modus Operandi wrote:
> In the immortal words of James Morris <jmorris@namei.org>:
> > What I wouldn't give for a Lombardi's pizza right now.  Is it the water, 
> > the coal-fired oven, the attitude ?  It's simply impossible to replicate 
> > anywhere else.  Same with bagels.  They tried shipping New York water to 
> > Boston to see if it was actually the water -- turns out it wasn't, alone, 
> > at least.
> > 
> > Similarly, you can have all of the elements of a press release: the ideas, 
> > the framing and the emotional hooks.  But if you don't have a coal fired 
> > oven AND the right water, AND the cockroach eggs in the flour, AND, well, 
> > an actual pizza chef, it might not turn out exactly like a real press 
> > release.
>   The pizza is over here:
>   http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/04/24/olpc_windows_bender/
>   I can't fault Ruben's enthusiasm. He clearly feels passionate about
>   this issue. Unfortunately, his press release includes material which is 
>   irrelevant at best and detracts from his message. In particular, I would 
>   caution against using Ayaan Hirsi-Ali's passage on the sexual excitement 
>   of trashy romance novels to explain the OLPC project's goals of bringing 
>   literacy to youngsters in impoverished nations. It sounds a bit unsavory.

Well, it's a lousy press release, but it accomplished most of what I wanted
in that it was picked up in a variety of places, it places in Google, it
formulated discussion on the issue of computers as more than tools, but as
facilitators of culture and got me a phone call from a Congressional office
on the house Education subcomittee.

>   I mean, sexual literacy is important, but it is somewhat orthogonal to
>   the goals of the OLPC project. If you sent that press release to the 
>   mainstream media, they'd probably find a way to twist it around:
>   "Microsoft Endorses Pedophile Operating System" or something. This is
>   fine, if your goal is to have OLPC smeared on Fox News.

Unfortunately, we've all become victemized by the modern marketing and PR machine.

Press Releases are normally short, sweet and short of detail.  But it wasn't always
like that, nor do I think that it's really possible to reduce the mind shaping affects
of computer designs on individuals and culture.

In truth, I've had limited interest in the OLPC project because I thought it's arching
goal is questionable.  What was more interesting to me was the fresh look at human/digial
interface design, unincumbered by the retraining and prejudices imposed by the marketing
and forced usage of the Microsoft Window franchise.  I was pleased with the active corners,
and other features of the system which were design based on pure research results and the
result was a system that indeed would seem alien to a trained use of a Windows OS.

I'd have liked to have seen more effort in integrate library resources.  The OLPC project
needed to be directly linked in a knowldge database designed for students, and Free Software
tools to access this library.  I'd have liked to have seen that interface not be browser based
but more integrated into X11. I'd had liked to have seen it linked with a pool of 
international volunteers to be on line in multiple languages to help with the database
and to tutor.  This would have made it a more affective reachout from the West to the 
rest of the world, and fostered a community which would over time become self-propagating.

The issue of the quotes of Ayaan Hirsi Ali I felt was necessary.  I think it is important
to understand that though processes of Freedom and most importantly, Free Communication, 
even trashy novels serve as tools for emancipation,  I believe that Free Software and the
OLPC project, as originally conceived, are pro-active political actions of Classical Liberal
theology.  And despite many problems with this theology, a modern developing formulation
of the Classically Libral political theology is not only inevitable, but the only means
in which mankind as a unit can survive...as a species.

>   Ruben: the first three paragraphs are good. It's OK to mention the
>   effect that the printing press had on the development of mathematics, 
>   but don't get bogged down in the details. (The link is there, if people
>   want to read a tangentially related article.) Paraphrase that in a few
>   seconds, and then move on and wrap it up. The whole point is about
>   proprietary software reinforcing notions of opaque creativity, whereas
>   the original XO / Sugar laptop OS was open to the core. Don't stray
>   too far from that center or you'll lose your audience.

Please explain what you ment by "The whole point is about proprietary software reinforcing 
notions of opaque creativity, "

I'm either misunderstanding you or perhaps you ment something different.

>   Finally, keep it short.

I'm open to suggestions :)

It tool 2 years to come up with DRM is Theft and We are the Stateholders.

I believe in short slogans, especially in the English tongue which can be so 
preceisly rich  (a bone to Rick Moen)

>   Ciao.

Hasta Lavista Baby.
http://www.mrbrklyn.com - Interesting Stuff
http://www.nylxs.com - Leadership Development in Free Software

So many immigrant groups have swept through our town that Brooklyn, like Atlantis, reaches mythological proportions in the mind of the world  - RI Safir 1998

http://fairuse.nylxs.com  DRM is THEFT - We are the STAKEHOLDERS - RI Safir 2002

"Yeah - I write Free Software...so SUE ME"

"The tremendous problem we face is that we are becoming sharecroppers to our own cultural heritage -- we need the ability to participate in our own society."

"> I'm an engineer. I choose the best tool for the job, politics be damned.<
You must be a stupid engineer then, because politcs and technology have been attached at the hip since the 1st dynasty in Ancient Egypt.  I guess you missed that one."

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