Cool little laptop – the OLPC Australia TechFest

I played with the XO (a.k.a. $100 laptop) at the OLPC Australia TechFest.

The XO is a very cool machine. Looks perfect for kids, regardless of whether they’ve used a computer before. I’d heard about it before, and tinkered for a few minutes in the past. But actually trying out the latest laptops, seeing the quality of the machine and the video display, and using the various programs for art, music and and science, it was something else. The way the Sugar interface works is ideal for exploratory learning, and the way the the mesh network together with Sugar facilitates group activities is really impressive.

Chatting to the OLPC people about the Windows controversy was encouraging too, to get the inside story rather than just media reports. The clear message I’ve heard is that they are definitely supporting open source, whatever public speculation is happening, and whatever else people want to do with the machines.

One thing said during the day made me laugh:

Senator Kate Lundy took an XO to a Labor Party meeting. (Prime Minister) Kevin Rudd liked it. We know, because the XO took a photograph of his smile.

(Sounds like the first wave of an alien invasion, reporting back to headquarters.)

Sarah Maddox has more.

At Appropedia we’re thinking about how we support the OLPC with free content, and about the Summer of Content, which is still a possibility for this year with a bit of work in the text 2 weeks. More on that shortly. Edit: This didn’t eventuate this time around, unfortunately – too much to do and we didn’t have the people to carry it all the way. But it’s looking definite for the Southern Summer (December 08 – February 09) in conjunction with OLPC Australia, their partners, and whoever else wants to support the work.

Originally posted, by the same author, at Pablo Garuda.