The Diamond Age Book Cover
The Diamond Age Book Cover

I wrote some time ago here about the possibility that the “Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer” described in Neal Stephenson’s book The Diamond Age could be near to realisation. Neal has posted a link to an article where the use of OLPC (One laptop per child) resources given to Ethiopian children has been a spectacular success. Rather than train the children in the use of the Motorola Zoom tablets they were giving (These were children who had never seen a word, in any language, no labels, street signs, books, newspapers or even packaged goods) they didn’t even hand them out. As Nicholas Negroponte of MIT says …

“We left the boxes in the village. Closed. Taped shut. No instruction, no human being. I thought, the kids will play with the boxes! Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, but found the on/off switch. He’d never seen an on/off switch. He powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs [in English] in the village. And within five months, they had hacked Android. Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera! And they figured out it had a camera, and they hacked Android.”

You can read the whole article here and I recommend it.


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