Links I liked

1. One laptop per child, R.I.P. (aside: I’m amazed, where is Alanna Shaikh not blogging?)

2. I’m becoming very tempted by Google Voice

3. Why news photographers shouldn’t travel in packs (branch out a little guys)

4. Question of the week: “why Qaddafi is still just a colonel. Shouldn’t he have gotten a self-granted promotion after forty years in office?

5. The NYT is taking reader questions from Harvard’s Dean of admissions. Neurotic parent enquiries follow. My favorite question:

Dear Dean Fitzsimmons, Don’t you think it’s absurd that all these people are obsessed with getting their kids into Harvard?

Runner up for best question:

Why should an excellent student attend Harvard rather than Yale? Harvard has instituted draconian cuts in undergraduate services — including hot food at breakfast, so I have read — while Yale has not.

As a Harvard graduate, I fear that undergraduate-focused institutions like Yale are going to get a much bigger share of the most excellent students.

To which I say: Moooahahahahaha!!

15 thoughts on “Links I liked

  1. Alanna Shaikh and I worked together. I found then, as I do now, that her rhetoric is a bit thick, a bit black and white – all is doom and gloom (though sometimes it’s awesome and bright). I find her “Dream is Over” comment very much in line with that.

    NOTE: I do not work for OLPC, nor am I now, nor have I ever been in any way, shape, or form directly or indirectly involved with anything related to OLPC and related topics.

  2. Wikipedia entry about Gaddafi :

    Unlike some other military revolutionaries, Gaddafi did not promote himself to the rank of general upon seizing power, but rather accepted a ceremonial promotion from captain to colonel and has remained at this rank since then. While at odds with Western military ranking for a colonel to rule a country and serve as Commander-in-Chief of its military, in Gaddafi’s own words Libya’s society is “ruled by the people”, so he needs no more grandiose title or supreme military rank.[1]

    He does *also* have the quite more grandiose title of “Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya” or “Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution”.

  3. I think OLPC has had a big impact — and probably can be termed a big success — if we stop narrowly identifying the company’s mission with its device. The last few sentences of Shaikh’s piece reads:

    It spawned the commercial laptops that are now out competing it. But that’s all. The dream is over.

    Right. OLPC frightened a whole lot of entrenched computer and software makers into thinking they were about to have a huge, nascent market stolen from them. Companies like Microsoft, Intel, and HP. So they created competing products and beat OLPC. Nicholas Negroponte himself used to complain quite a bit about this.

    Who does well when companies compete for their business? Customers do. Who are the customers in this case? Children in developing countries.

    Now, it may still be the case that computers are fundamentally unimportant to educational efforts in the developing world. But in terms of igniting a new market and hopefully kicking off a worthwhile long-term experiment, OLPC seems to have been a resounding success.

  4. Hey Gansler…I have no idea who you are. Where’d we work together? You’re right, though, that I tend to run to extremes…

  5. Adam,

    I don’t think that you can call spawning competing laptops a success for OLPC. Well, it’s a success, but not a major one. But when you consider the time, money, and human energy that went into this effort, this is not enough of a success to justify it.

  6. Hey Shaikh, so how *do* you get work done and blog all over, on everything? Or is the USG job so cushie over there in Tajikistan? Or is it that *any* USG job is so hard to get relieved from over non-performance that it allows folks to spend all day everyday to blog?

  7. ….I mean, it’s not *just* that you blog all over, but you *respond* to comments on your blogs, or to comments on *mentions* of your blogs, in less than 60 minutes.

  8. Gansler,

    I am consulting right now – I’ve got several different gigs – and since I get paid to blog, it’s work for me. Important to note: I don’t currently work for the USG. I haven’t since January. Also, my dad has Alzheimer’s and doesn’t sleep well, so I spend a lot of time awake late at night reading on the web and keeping an eye on him.

    And I always read Chris’s blog, not just when he mentions to me! He’s one of my inspirations.

  9. Indeed; left (or left-appearing) authocracies tend to disavow ranks above colonel (one of the first act of the charade that is the failed Indonesian Communist putch of ’65 is to abolish ranks above colonel), while on the other hand, right-authocracies tend to go star-heavy. Generalissimo Chiang, anyone?

  10. I wrote a longer reply on my blog, but to summarize, while yes, in a way the OLPC project is clearly a failure, it is the kind of failure that paves the way to a revolutionary shake-up in computing: cheap netbooks, better screens, and an interesting experiment in user interface, Sugar, that is outliving the project that spawned it (what remains of OLPC is, sadly, turning into a cheap Windows netbook).

  11. Just want to point out that sometimes it’s necessary for photographers to work together in terms of security and cost – especially as newspapers and magazines pay fewer and fewer expenses – my point is just that none of this work is all that “new” and that I wish the visual vocabulary were a bit more, well, expanded.

  12. Google voice is great, I use the free text message feature all the time (including to foreign cell phones, which in theory is not supposed to work but does, to most but not all international cell phones). The service will become amazing if they can ever get number portability (i.e. let you use your existing cell phone number as your google voice number)

  13. This one smokes the other two you got:

    “My daughter is a good and hard-working student but just outside the top 10% of her small class in a well-respected private school. She’s the president of the school’s community service club and is the captain of the field hockey team. Does she have any chance of getting into Harvard?

    How about if I donate $50 million?”

    — Marshall

  14. Pingback: Scarlett Lion - of photographers and soldiers in drc, redux