In the Blog

$100 laptops and $150 hotel rooms

June 4th, 2008     by Catherine Hayday     Comments

Yesterday’s discussion over donation programs reminded me that I’ve been remiss, in that I’ve never posted about the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organization.

The short version is that OLPC started as an initiative out of the MIT Media Lab, where they attempted (and roughly succeeded) in creating a $100 laptop (it currently costs closer to $200), to be made available to countries which historically haven’t had the funds or means to have technology in the classroom.

There was huge interest from the public in this project, and, from tech nerds, in the laptop itself – prompting the “Give 1 Get 1” offer that ran at the end of last year. (OLPC is now set up for donations only).

When I first heard about the XO-1, what I was most attracted to was that they were running free and open source software (and, at least for now, still are). It was such a fundamental element of the project that its use was listed as one of OLPC’s 5 core principles.

Though now it’s looking not so fundamental after all, with Microsoft announcing that OLPC might be running XP as early as this month. (I’ll get into why that’s boo-able if there’s interest in a “Whatsa Free/Open Software” post. Until then I’ll put a sweater on over my “Free as in Freedom” tshirt.)

For more on what OLPC is about, you can read the Wikipedia page here - which includes this short, but valuable, section on “other viewpoints”.

In completely different news (wait, I bring them together at the end), check out Starwood’s Aloft hotel chain, which I’m noting here for featuring rooms and hotel service all wired up for North America’s pervasively technocentric age.

“Each guest room will feature a plug-and-play station in the form of a flat-screen high-definition television. Guests will be able to plug multiple electronic devices – like iPods, mobile devices, cellphones and laptops – into the television to work on a larger screen or simply to charge their devices. Guests will also be able to select their rooms and print out boarding passes at kiosks in the lobby.” [from]

And they’ll be in Canada shortly. One by the Montreal airport (accepting reservations as of this Thursday), and one coming in Sept 2009 to Toronto.
(Oh, and apparently also one in Vaughan opening July 2010, whose info was updated between my refreshes of their site. Live interweb action!)

So, to fit these disparate worlds together – I guess wealthy North Americans, rolling in disposable income, can lie on a Starwood-patented bed and project their laptop onto the room’s flat-screen while they donate an XO-1.

Nice and tidy. Right?


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