Free Culture: Why buy the Amazon Kindle when you can give and get an OLPC XO-1 for the same price?

Submitted by connolly on Tue, 2007-11-20 02:11. :: |

I just discovered Kindle: Amazon's New Wireless Reading Device. About $10 per e-book sounds ok, but $0.10 to put my own files on it?!?! It can read blogs like Slashdot and boingboing for as little as $.99 per month over the $399 purchase price. It comes with wikipedia. Say... that sounds familiar... where else can I get wikipedia on a device with a nice display that works in daylight...

Oh yeah! The OLPC XO-1. For the same $400 (+ shipping) you can get one and give one away.

Håkon brought one to the video panel at the W3C TPAC this month, while the voice of Lawrence Lessig was still ringing in my head: What have we done about it? he asked again and again in his powerful OSCON 2002 talk:

Lawrence Lessig: I have been doing this for about two years--more than 100 of these gigs. This is about the last one. One more and it's over for me. So I figured I wanted to write a song to end it. But then I realized I don't sing and I can't write music. But I came up with the refrain, at least, right? This captures the point. If you understand this refrain, you're gonna' understand everything I want to say to you today. It has four parts:

  • Creativity and innovation always builds on the past.

  • The past always tries to control the creativity that builds upon it.

  • Free societies enable the future by limiting this power of the past.

  • Ours is less and less a free society.

 

I don't sing all that well either, but I play a little guitar, so when Håkon walked into the HTML WG meeting as un-conference pitches were next on the agenda, I pitched a jam session. I dedicated the opening number,With a Little Help from My Friends, to Sam Ruby whose comment prompted me to watch the Lessig show before the trip. The InstantGig was "surreal (but awesome)" according to one account.

Håkon's pitch for open standard video for our cultural heritage inspired One laptop per Kyle, the story of getting an XO-1 for my 8-year-old boy instead of the Windows PC he says he want in order to play the games that his friends all play. Before the trip he told me that he wants to build a web site with lots and lots of games and I thought "but you're just one little boy." But I think I get it now...

He has a new name, by the way: Burn, as in Rip, Mix, an Burn. Rip, after 1 year of musical training, can sound out the Mario theme on trombone or piano in an afternoon, something I can't do after 20 years of training my mediocre ear. And the middle child, Mix, is so charming that if you stop at a red light, he'll have a new friend before the light turns green.

I have one give-one-get-one package on order for Burn; if you're feeling like a patron of the arts and you want to see what happens if Rip and Mix get one too, feel free to send us a Christmas Card with a little something inside.

And look out for SwordPedestal.com, which Kyle picked out. It's only a dream now, but I have a hunch it may one day rival Nintendo for the hearts and minds of a few million people.