OLPCorps : a proposed summer grant program for student initiatives

A group of students who have worked on two small deployments in Africa
over the past year have proposed an OLPCorps project (quick, how many C’s did you read?), to encourage students everywhere to found and contribute to locally-supported school projects.

You can find and comment on the proposal for this summer on the OLPCorps Africa wiki page.

G1G1 flyer from OHOT
G1G1 flyer from OHOT

OLPC is considering this seriously for promotion and funding this summer.  The program would be open to students from all countries.  Paul Commons from Indiana University has been leading the proposal development – their “one here, one there” chapter made the G1G1 flyer on the right during the fall.

What I like best about the proposal is that it is not competitive, and there is real incentive for different project enthusiasts to help one another make their projects better.  In practice this happens to some degree with publicly-posted proposal contests, since everyone reads other proposals and learns from the best; but it is a silent borrowing of ideas, not the give-and-take of suggestions.

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G1G1 International Update

The first round of international Give One, Get One orders have been shipped out — every order placed before December 16 should have arrived by now, in time for Christmas.  Some were sent from Miami, and the European orders went out from Brussels with EU adapters and a special G1G1 Europe thank-you note.

Orders between now and December 31 should ship out by mid-January.  We are able to ship to all of the 45 countries mentioned in the original announcement, and are investigating and adding more countries as there is specific interest.  If you want to send laptops to a country not currently on our list, leave a comment here, and I will see what we can do.

Barring an extension, International G1G1 will end on December 31st.  Be sure to place your orders now if you are interested.

It currently still appears that one is preordering on Amazon, and that the XO is “available January 15” — that means that orders made now will be shipped by Jan 15 or else refunded.  This is the way information is sent to us for fulfillment – a compromise we have made to cover countries everywhere, since AMZN was only able to handle shipping within the US.  Donors in a few specific countries (Australia, Hong Kong, France) can choose to take part in G1G1 directly through a local site, as a tax-deductable donation.

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Open Library designs an online XO bookreader

Their new Open Library OLPC bookreader is lovely, and has been tweaked to recognize the XO’s gamepad keys for navigation, and to display in both normal and rotated screen modes.  Many thanks to Anand and Aaron Swartz for making this work.  Web whiz Rebecca Malamud worked up a lovely portal for children, customized to display well on the XO, and Aaron helped make sure the first demo library bundle of OpenLibrary books is available for testing.

With this work, the 1.1 million public domain books of the Open Library are available, OCR’ed text and all, to everyone with an XO and an internet connection.  Now we are working on making them work better offline, for children whose primary connection to the Internet’s archives is through a friend with a USB key who visits from time to time.

I hope that we can come up with an awesome collection of reading lists for children, and a scripted way to turn a reading list into a bookshelf  available for reading online (via Rebecca’s portal) or offline (zipped up as an XO library bundle) for Gen XO.

Birth of a blog

Hello, world!

OLPC is lucky to have an active independent news community.  Since we started posting regular updates in our weekly Community News digest, there has been active interest among other blogs since I joined OLPC in late 2006.  Likewise we have had community forums on olpcnews and elsewhere before forums.laptop.org were up and running.

The need for a public voice for OLPC has always been there — a place to announce changes and updates, break interesting news with certainty rather than rumor, and give OLPC staff and core volunteers who don’t blog themselves a place to share what they know.  So, with many changes and updates coming in the last months of 2008, we are finally setting up an official project blog.

My goal is for this to complement and support the great work on local and chapter blogs sharing olpc news in other languages.  If you have a story you want to share about OLPC, you may want to submit it to one of the community blogs in our blogroll.  If you have a story you want our project teams to write or elaborate on, or a new site to add to our blogroll, suggest it here.  I will gather all of the suggestions in a story ideas page, and we will work through them as soon as we can.

Yours in blogging, SJ