Community support – don’t think of yourself as a customer but as a member of a movement

I’ve signed up for the Give 1 Get 1 program for One Laptop Per Child, and just received the email today, November 12, 2007, with the link to the site,

group-giving_v2.jpgI read the terms and conditions with interest because I am seriously considering purchasing a laptop either for my son, who is four, or for his classroom of four-year-olds. Plus, I’ve been volunteering to help with their end-user documentation.

I’d love to buy one for every classroom at my son’s preschool but that’ll take some fundraising. I’ll boldly propose here that you can contact me if you’re interested in buying enough for a small preschool in Austin, Texas in addition to kids in least developed countries around the world.

I absolutely LOVE the spirit of the support statement. It reads as follows:

Neither OLPC Foundation nor One Laptop per Child, Inc. has service facilities, a help desk or maintenance personnel in the United States or Canada. Although we believe you will love your XO laptop, you should understand that it is not a commercially available product and, if you want help using it, you will have to seek it from friends, family, and bloggers. One goal of the G1G1 initiative is to create an informal network of XO laptop users in the developed world, who will provide feedback about the utility of the XO laptop as an educational tool for children, participate in the worldwide effort to create open-source educational applications for the XO laptop, and serve as a resource for those in the developing world who seek to optimize the value of the XO laptop as an educational tool. A fee based tech support service will be available to all who desire it. We urge participants in the G1G1 initiative to think of themselves as members of an international educational movement rather than as “customers.”

I’ve been working on documentation for the XO laptop in the wiki at and then taking the wiki content over to an Author-it instance. I’ll write more later about a wiki-based workflow, especially with translation in mind, and we are putting a process in place. Please, feel free to edit that page or contact me if you are interested in contributing.

Personally, the most difficult part so far has been my limited ability with design and layout. I have grand visions but feel my layout skills are inadequate for a kid- and parent-friendly look within Word. Nonetheless, it is an exciting time to be a small part of such an influential project.

I’m one of the friends, family, and bloggers who is willing to help with the XO laptop. So I urge you to go to and put your U$399 to good use.


  • November 12, 2007 - 10:58 am | Permalink

    Thanks for volunteering your time.

  • November 12, 2007 - 12:42 pm | Permalink

    I bought my OLPC this morning. You might enjoy this piece on the XO and ebooks which I wrote last night. I’m starting a Houston OLPC user group in January .

    As someone who has spent the last two days flailing about to find the best XO wiki pages, your page was a welcome relief. Linux documentation in general “emerges”, and it can be a source of frustration for those not used to it.

    I know you’ve written about wikis as documentation, and we see the problems. The documentation misses some things, doesn’t list the latest status or specifically how to do things. Also, there’s a lot of contradictory information. Even after looking through the wiki I assumed there weren’t much in the way of textbooks and then I happened upon a whole list of ebook libraries . I’m assuming that they’re just more focused on overseas marketing and internal development and not on user documents (the open source world is used to relying on community-driven documentation).

    Interestingly, I judged an STC competition entry produced in AuthorIT recently and was sold by its versatility. I think the OLPC are more comfortable with open source documentation methods even if they recognize its inadequacies. Another problem with wiki documentation is that it gives status reports of not-yet-finished items, and that obscures the list of things which are completed and user-ready.

    I haven’t signed up for a wiki account yet, although I guess I suppose I will. I’m starting a site for my user group with tips & tricks. The question then becomes, if the tips & tricks are so useful, don’t they belong inside the main wiki itself?

    One source of frustration to me is the lack of response from them about buying 100+ devices. For that volume, the price falls to $299, and that is much more affordable.

    By the way, you might want to put teleread on your RSS reader for December and January. David and I will be blogging heavily about OLPC as it pertains to ebooks.

  • November 13, 2007 - 11:14 pm | Permalink

    Do you know what the intended age range is for the XO?

  • November 13, 2007 - 11:16 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I do, it’s ages 6-16. I was just reading the “Ask OLPC a Question” page on their wiki at and that has been asked a few times, so you’re in good company. 🙂

  • November 16, 2007 - 10:37 am | Permalink

    I’m planning to buy an XO. If my brother doesn’t want it for his boys (9, 13, 15), you can have it for your preschool.

  • November 28, 2007 - 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Sorry to be a tease. My brother has claimed my XO for his kids.

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