Originally called the “OLPC” (One Laptop Per Child), or the “$100 laptop”, the XO laptop is designed from the bare metal up to be used by children in developing nations, to bootstrap a worldwide generation of skilled hackers, entrepreneurs, and knowledge workers. The laptops are designed to be low-power, chargeable using a yo-yo like pull charger (no electric grid needed), to connect with each other and the Internet using a wireless grid, and to show the source code of all the running programs in a way that lets kids learn.
You can read more about the project in a New York Times article here. Sure, it’s going to raise lots of issues (what if they get stolen? What about goatse?), but as far as I’m concerned it’s going to open a floodgate of information and enfranchisement. In twenty years, your employability, no matter where in the world you live, is going to be based on two things: knowledge of computers and command of apostrophes and homonyms. Any kid with an XO laptop can start learning both.
The non-profit XO project isn’t set up for consumer sales in the US — their mission is to get governments to buy them a million at a time to distribute to kids. But the governments are hesitant to write those big checks until they can see demonstrated enthusiasm for the devices. So from now until November 26, you can buy an XO laptop to be sent overseas, and get one for yourself. That’s one for a developing nation, and one for us to play with in Sharpless street, so Lydia can join the Worldwide Hacker Army. Here’s a description of the program. So, dear friends and close family — anyone who has me on their Christmas and birthday list — you would make me very happy if you would click on the button below and contribute a little something, you will have made a nerd very, very happy. At the end of the contribution period, I’ll take all the proceeds, contribute the difference, and place the order.
Thanks, and merry Christmas! And happy birthday to me, etc!