An article in today’s San Francisco Chronicle (yes, I do read my new hometown’s daily paper) features the above image of the XO laptop designed as low-cost hardware to be supplied to children around the world. What attracted me to the image is the manner in which it anthropomorphizes the technology: the screen swiveled at an angle as if the XO had just turned to face us, the ear-like antennae perked up as if it were listening, and of course, the images of children to bring home the point. It would be difficult to make technology appear any more friendly.
And indeed, the technology seems quite friendly! Not just in terms of its use, but also in terms of its creators’ goals. One Laptop per Child (OLPC) intends “to provide children around the world with new opportunities to explore, experiment and express themselves,” through an innovative combination of hardware, software, and economic strategy. I’ve had an opportunity to see several XO laptops, but I haven’t played with one much. Very clever, in more ways than one.
BTW, the OLPC website features an interactive showing how the wee laptops communicate: the ear metaphor for the antennae actually suggests how the hardware daisy-chains together connecting one another. Humanizing and illustrative!