nicholas negroponte – olpc

nicholas negroponte bw

Nicholas Negroponte is an American architect best known as the founder and Chairman Emeritus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab, and also known as the founder of the One Laptop per Child Association.

media lab

Find him on wikipedia.

at mit:

nicholas on mit

on TED:

nicholas on ted

our take/thinking:


attachment & authenticity – olpc et al

What the OLPC Project has realized over the last five or six years, though, is that teaching kids stuff is really not that valuable. Yes, knowing all your state capitols how to spell “neighborhood” properly and whatnot isn’t a bad thing, but memorizing facts and procedures isn’t going to inspire kids to go out and learn by teaching themselves, which is the key to a good education. Instead, OLPC is trying to figure out a way to teach kids to learn, which is what this experiment is all about.


The idea of dropping off tablets outside of the context of schools is a new paradigm for OLPC. Through the late 2000s, the company was focused on delivering a custom miniaturized and ruggedized laptop, the XO, of which about 3 million have been distributed to kids in 40 countries. Deployments went to schools including ones in Peru (see “Una Laptop por Nino”).
Giving computers directly to poor kids without any instruction is even more ambitious than OLPC’s earlier pushes. “What can we do for these 100 million kids around the world who don’t go to school?” McNierney said. “Can we give them tool to read and learn—without having to provide schools and teachers and textbooks and all that?”

In an interview after his talk, Negroponte said that while the early results are promising, reaching conclusions about whether children could learn to read this way would require more time. “If it gets funded, it would need to continue for another a year and a half to two years to come to a conclusion that the scientific community would accept,”Negroponte said. “We’d have to start with a new village and make a clean start.”

maybe not that long.. no?
maybe it’s not so much about the scientific community accepting it – as it is about what works..
imagine we do it in the us alongside – showing both ends are currently impoverished of learning and curiosity.. of attachment and authenticity
imagine it only taking a year-ish..
what tech wants.. no?

exactly – Why I hope kids in Ethiopia can teach the rest of us something profound about education.

As we industrialized learning and created schools, we needed to measure the system’s efficacy and each child’s progress. What you really want to measure is curiosity, imagination, passion, creativity, and the ability to see things from multiple points of view. But these are hard to measure other than one on one, and even then, the assessment will be subjective. So instead, we measure what a child knows, and from that we infer that the child has learned how to learn. This is the real aspiration we have for our children: learning learning.

so true – connections are gold – who are the richest..?
our bling is keeping us from what matters most.
our obsession with proof is keeping us from what matters most.


we have now turned our attention to the 100 million kids worldwide who do not go to first grade. Most of them do not go because there is no school, there are no literate adults in their village, and there is little promise of that changing soon. My colleagues and I have started an experiment in two such villages, asking a simple question: can children learn how to read on their own?

Whether this can happen has yet to be proved. But not only will the results tell us how to reach the rest of the 100 million kids much faster than we can by building schools and training teachers, they should also tell us a great deal about learning in the developed world. If kids in Ethiopia learn to read without school, what does that say about kids in New York City who do not learn even with school?

The message will be very simple: children can learn a great deal by themselves. More than we give them credit for. Curiosity is natural, and all kids have it unless it is whipped out of them, often by school. Making things, discovering things, and sharing things are keys. Having massive libraries of explicative material like modern-day encyclopedias or textbooks is fine. But such access may be much less significant than building a world in which ideas are shaped, discovered, and reinvented in the name of learning by doing and discovery.


Nicholas Negroponte Guest Contributor

Nicholas Negroponte is the founder and chairman emeritus of MIT’s Media Lab, and the chairman of the One Laptop Per Child foundation.

monika hardy (@monk51295)
10/29/12 9:09 PM
unaware of the importance of… #Kindle

To those unaware of the importance of attachment and the dangers posed by peer orientation, it seems only self-evident that people belong with those their own age.

i’m thinking the problem is we’re not addressing the two most basic needs of people:
attachment and authenticity.
gabor mate has a talk that addresses them beautifully…
attachment being the connection with one adult
[our – being known by someone – be us]
authenticity being the real you
[our – talk to yourself daily – be you]
ted 2014:

 A 30-year history of the future

2 billion each day in afghanistan
prediction – ingest info – perhaps the way we’re doing reading isn’t efficient..


city science (mit) – like personal fabricating your city.. no?



aug 2014

Bits are the future

atoms have an edge..

look at video for like an hour – it’s like 100s of books.. heart data – small fraction of heart data… how to reconcile this and still say neutral

in food – genetics equivalent to bits

manufacture food.. genetically modified food is the future…

needed if we do local? or is it an and ness?


published april 2015

Being Educated

learning thru discovery .. not from being told..

writing a program.. closest you can come to thinking about thinking – the debugging process

one of my current interest – how to revisit some of america’s ed system…

flaws: 1\ fund ed thru real estate 2\ we age segregate  3\ we make fundamental mistake looking at ed as something that has to do with market forces.. this is important because we are testing kids to death.. some give up learning to do well on the test

finland…. as example… says – off the charts in testing… because they don’t build competition into education

stop testing..


from Anne‘s emergent code 1:16:

Nicholas Negroponte, a founder of Wired magazine, wrote in the 1990’s about how technology’s ultimate success would be the point at which it would be invisible and embedded into human life. ‘Computers as we know them today’, he said in 1998, ‘will a) be boring, and b) disappear into things that are, first and foremost, something else’. Their increasing invisibility, he said, would be a mark of their success.


living spaces


city ness



from 1996? with Doug Engelbart, Tim Berners-Lee, Alan Kay, Nicholas Negroponte:

Douglas Engelbart, who was the keynote speaker and the numinous soul of the symposium, has interwoven these themes throughout his life’s work from the very beginning when, shortly after WWII, he decided to devote his life to a vision of using computers to help individuals and groups augment their capabilities to deal with ‘complexity and urgency’.


Kay commented that

This was the visit that changed my life. What Doug Engelbart offered was not just a vision of interacting with the system, but also a philosophical underpinning that is even more important today than it was then.

Kay describes one aspect of Engelbartian thought:

One of the phrases that he [Engelbart] used that I particularly liked was ‘thought vectors in concept space‘. I’m not sure I understand what he meant, but what I think is that you are creating an extension of the kinds of spaces that you think in terms of inside of your head. So, you are creating an augmentation of the ways of thinking, the ways of representing, the ways of associating that was now going to be extended in a way somewhat analogous to the way writing has extended us but somewhat more like the way we actually think.

Engelbart describes it as a method:

…to externalize your thoughts in the concept structures that are meaningful outside; moving around flexibly, manipulating them and viewing them. It’s a new way to operate on a new kind of externalized medium.


Berners-Lee – .. He described these protocols as fractal topologies that can occur both in network and social structures. Fractal topologies are those that scale so as to be present at all levels.


In the final presentation of the symposium, Alan Kay gave a retrospective of a period that he felt embodied a great paradigm shift in the way people thought about and wanted to use computers. He described the figures who influenced him in the ’60s and helped shape his own vision of a computing society and its technology. Prominent among these influential figures and events were Ivan Sutherland with Sketchpad, Doug Engelbart and the FJCC demo, the Simula language, and the Grail system at Rand. The people and systems populating Kay’s talk were all examples of successful efforts to do something completely new. His explanation for their success was that at this point in the evolution of research in computer science, the players were all people whose main interests and training cam from outside the field. They didn’t know what the technology couldn’t do, and so weren’t bounded by such restrictions.


Negroponte .. -But, he also reflected an optimism that the Internet would survive intact when he described the persistence of a migrating flock of birds in which there is always a new leader at the point of the formation no matter how many times hunters may shoot the previous leader.

copying is by permission of the Association for Computing Machinery.
Copyright 1996 ACM 1072-5520/96/0300


MIT Media Lab (@medialab) tweeted at 5:30 PM on Wed, Feb 21, 2018:
“I believe that 30 years from now people will look back at the beginning of our century and wonder what we were doing and thinking about big, hard, long-term problems, particularly those of basic research.” Read Nicholas Negroponte’s piece in @MIT_JoDS

1\ You cannot keep skimming the cream off the top, without doing some basic, open research that is widely shared. Open and shared are the key words.

2\ Start-ups in general are the victims of focus: the new F-word. positive or making wealth for a few. But it is not a world-changing advancement to help the hungry or, for that matter, vegetarians.

3\ Large scale government and inter-government funding is key, yet is plummeting

I’m sure we can all find many counter-examples, but the three above all have something in common: greed. Summarized in four words, capitalism is not democracy.

Denmark and Sweden, which Americans often derogatorily called welfare states. These societies have a group mindset that puts us before me. They do not consider citizens to be customers

zeynep’s wish to be customers..

Today nearly 800 people work openly and with impunity on things considered impossible, unnecessary, silly or all of the above. When asked why, the answer is “Because.” So we might conclude that these reasons are themselves a form of short-sightedness.. t

imagining 7 bn w that luxury

a nother way.. via 2 convos .. as it could be

ie: hlb via 2 convos that io dance.. as the day..[aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]


article on olpc 2018

Kwan Tuck Soon (@tucksoon) tweeted at 5:00 AM – 20 Apr 2018 :

OLPC’s $100 laptop was going to change the world — then it all went wrong via @verge

Mitra’s vision was more minimalist than OLPC’s, but both projects were almost totally focused on distributing computers. Kids’ natural curiosity was supposed to do the rest.

curiosity can do the rest.. if.. we consider all of us kids.. (has to be all of us to work) and.. if we use the device to listen to and then facil that curiosity.. ie:  2 convos

as it could be..

ie: hlb via 2 convos that io dance.. as the day..[aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]..  a nother way

nicholas.. sugata

And even today, co-founder Mary Lou Jepsen believes that laptops are vital for education. “Better teacher training only can get you so far when many of the teachers paid to show up don’t and many more are illiterate. Giving children access to information enables them to keep learning, to keep asking ‘why’ and ‘why not.’”

access to info is great.. connecting them to tribe and self.. deeper solution

mary lou


Quinn “I probably should be writing now” Norton (@quinnnorton) tweeted at 6:48 AM on Thu, Sep 05, 2019:
The thing i am most frustrated by right now is the assumption the rest of the money is perfectly fine.


Quinn “I probably should be writing now” Norton (@quinnnorton) tweeted at 6:50 AM on Thu, Sep 05, 2019:
It’s not like MIT ever stopped taking Saudi money or DOD money. I guess they mostly murder kids without touching their private parts, so that’s fine.

@chengela: Two updates to this story. First, I want to emphasize that @grok was the one who stood up to Nicholas Negroponte. She deserves credit for speaking out.



@grok: Next time I’m thinking of putting my career on the line by speaking truth to power and ugly-crying in front of 100 people, I’ll try to remember that a man will get credit for it in the press.

@grok: First of all, I’d be a terrible director, but second of all, now would be a good time to read my Guardian piece on why I want @Joi to stay and step up.

Jeffrey Epstein’s influence in the science world is a symptom of larger problems

I can count on one hand the real male allies in my world: people I have repeatedly seen stop and listen to the voices of the marginalized, without getting defensive. People I have witnessed throwing their weight around behind the scenes, at personal expense to themselves, for no reason other than to do the right thing. One of those people is Joi Ito, the director of the MIT Media Lab.


While the role he played was far from John Brockman’s, it was hard not to feel that my whole professional environment had been complicit.


Because the complicity goes all the way up, these problems require people with great power to fix them. Ultimately, I no longer believe that I can enact true change without the help of powerful allies. In my experience, one of the few people who is even capable of enacting change at MIT is Joi Ito. I hate what he did and I do not defend his actions. But I also know that he may actually act to fix his mistakes. Over the past eight years, I’ve observed him listen, introspect, and take action, even where it would have been easier for him to stay the course.

Men like Joi need to step up, and step up hard.

This is why I am leaving Brockman as soon as I’ve fulfilled my contractual obligations, but staying at the Media Lab. The Brockmans of the world are uninterested in change; Joi Ito has the humility to understand that change is imperative. Staying is a hard decision. I’m worried that change won’t come easily. And I’m worried that I am again missing the line between working from within and being complicit.