Building a smarter computing culture in Fargo, ND
I think Chris blogged about Kentaro Toyama earlier. His piece in The Atlantic Mobile certainly forces projects like ours to ask,”what do we think we are doing?” I certainly believe that Sugar, XO, and technology in general are not the answer to educational problems, although they seem to be potentially enriching hardware and software. I am worried about the fetishization of gadgets, including XO. I agree that clarifying our intent and building our capacity for a Fargo Sugar project and a Sudan XO deployment (if this ever becomes viable) is crucial.
Our intent in Fargo is to try to build a culture of smart computing. Introduce Sugar early, introduce programming skills, teach kids to make computer art (including digital stories) and design computer games as a way to more active, less passive, more peaceful, less violent interaction with computer cultures. Our capacity challenges seem small here.
Our capacity challenges in Sudan seem immense. I know from reports out of Sudan right now that teachers are making $100 a month and going on strike. We don’t believe we can give a kid a laptop and walk away, so we have a huge capacity issue to be worried about if we ever lead a deployment in Sudan. I worry about the lack of electricity in most villages still, and wonder what it will take to build sufficient capacity to run 150 laptops in an environment with limited electricity. I worry about replacement cycles and ecologically sound disposal.