Porn on the “$100” PC

A story on TechCrunch points to the discovery that the One Laptop Per Child initiative‘s technology was used for a purpose no greater than surfing for pornography on the web! What surprised me more was the response to this incident, where a representative of the One Laptop Per Child group was reported saying that the OLPC computers would now be fitted with porn filters.

I find this typical for an enterprise that has consistently devalued the importance of teachers to guide the use of technology by the target audience of the OLPC – children. Porn filter can be bypassed and the very nature of the OLPC, by the Nicholas Negroponte’s own admission, is that it encourages its users to take it apart and hack the software.

“The children—and their teachers—will have the freedom to reshape, reinvent, and reapply their software, hardware, and content.”

The importance of good teachers – in physical classrooms or through distance education – is not going to be replaced by a cheap laptop. Teachers play more than the role of educating – they are a weathervane of the values of progressive society and a compass for the growth of impressionable adolescent minds. Instead of augmenting their work, the OLPC Foundation attempts to dislodge their importance by suggesting that their laptop, now armed with porn filters, is a panacea for the lack of robust primary and secondary education in the countries it is deployed in.

It is a great folly and a dangerous technological determinism that lays the seeds for more conflict in the future.

6 comments on “Porn on the “$100” PC

  1. Deane
    July 23, 2007 at 1:43 am #

    “Teachers play more than the role of educating – they are a weathervane of the values of progressive society and a compass for the growth of impressionable adolescent minds”

    for real?🙂

  2. Sanjana Hattotuwa
    July 23, 2007 at 8:30 am #

    Indeed!🙂

    To find them however, is another question entirely. From personal experience, the subjects I loved the most in College were those that year after year, had some great teachers. I was poor in and hated math and science simply because the teachers who taught them thought fit to punish me on the knuckles whenever I didn’t get the answer to the square root of 3 correct to the 10th decimal point… A laptop can make learning more fun, but without human direction and input, it’s nothing more than a dumb tool that can destroy as much as it can construct and strengthen.

    As the Indian Government notes:

    “The case for giving a computer to every single is paedagogically suspect. It may actually be detrimental to the growth of creative and analytical abilities of the child”, Education Secretary Sudeep Banerjee told the Planning Commission in a letter sent last month.

    “…..We cannot visualize a situation for decades when we can go beyond the pilot stage. We need classrooms and teachers more urgently than fancy tools,” Banerjee said.

    http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/002200607250313.htm

    Clearly, not the entire story, but apt with regard to belief that I flag in my post that porn filters are wholly adequate safeguards against the use of the laptops for purposes other than math and science!

  3. Alia Noelle Lamaadar
    July 30, 2007 at 1:42 pm #

    I think that you’ll find pornography in all sorts of interesting places these days. Try this on for your daily dose of irony (only for the over 18-crowd): I was recently at the WSIS website trying to view the oft-cited report, “Digital Opportunities for All: Meeting the Challenge,” Final Report of the Digital Opportunity Task Force (http://www.itu.int/wsis/docs/background/general/reports/26092001_dotforce.htm). Well, as near as I can tell, after the UN DOT Force was disbanded, they stopped hosting the dotforce.org domain. It must have then been acquired by some pretty lewd porn monger because if you try to access the report you’re redirected to HARD-CORE pornography. Talk about ‘digital opportunities for all’! I’d say that pornography is one of the more popular memes of modernity!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Negroponte’s ivory towers crumble: The OLPC’s travails « ICT for Peacebuilding (ICT4Peace) - March 22, 2008

    […] read my other articles exploring the potential and pitfalls of the OLPC: Porn on the “$100″ PC ICT4Peace, OLPC and Technology for Social Change – A conversation with Paul Currion To be or not to […]

  2. Kottu » Blog Archive » Negroponte’s ivory towers crumble: The OLPC’s travails - March 22, 2008

    […] read my other articles exploring the potential and pitfalls of the OLPC: Porn on the “$100″ PC ICT4Peace, OLPC and Technology for Social Change – A conversation with Paul Currion To be or not to […]

  3. OLPC’s troubles keep mounting « ICT for Peacebuilding (ICT4Peace) - May 15, 2008

    […] suspect vision of the OLPC as an “educational” tool. Nearly a year ago, I expressed my own doubts that the OLPC, seen as a replacement for teachers, could be taken seriously. Earlier this year, the […]

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