Wednesday, January 03, 2007

More $100 Laptop Details

I just came across this article which includes some more juicy details about the $100 Laptop project. Apparently, the laptop will be running a totally custom UI:

To that end, folders are not the organizing metaphor on these machines, unlike most computers since Apple Computer Inc. launched the first Mac in 1984. The knock on folders is that they force users to remember where they stored their information rather than what they used it for.

Instead, the XO machines are organized around a "journal," an automatically generated log of everything the user has done on the laptop. Students can review their journals to see their work and retrieve files created or altered in those sessions.

That seems like a really smart move, as it's been way too long since someone re-thought out this desktop metaphor we use daily, especially from an educational/kids perspective. I also appreciated the comments about teaching kids MS Office:

"In fact, one of the saddest but most common conditions in elementary school computer labs (when they exist in the developing world), is the children are being trained to use Word, Excel and PowerPoint," Negroponte wrote in an e-mail interview. "I consider that criminal, because children should be making things, communicating, exploring, sharing, not running office automation tools."

This agrees with the classic Logo take on education: kids should be programming the computer, instead of the computer programming kids.

I'll still be amazed if they can pull this project off, but considering they've raised $29 million, they must be at least on the right track.

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