Day Five – Innovation Forum, OLPC class, Elections October 12, 2008Posted by GuySoft in Hamakor, ITU.
Tags: ITU, olpc
Today was back full of work. It started with an interesting panel, continued with of elections and ended in a mall.
The first thing I noticed was that Rohan Samarajiva, who was in
yesterdays panel, was in this panel too. However this time I understood his talk. It was interesting. He spoke of the fact that Asia can’t adopt the business models that were developed in the west, basically because they were assuming that the
infrastructure for ICT exists already and that people can invest a large
portion of their budget in ICT.
Moreover, there is an interesting phenomena where the laws of supply and demand are applied. In the western world model the price reaches an equilibrium at a relatively high price. However, if you drastically cut the price so the worker force can afford the services (those who make only dollars a day), the market grows by the millions and the price becomes profitable again.
Another nice story told in the forum was told by H.Lewis which quoted goes something like this: “There has been nearly no research done on the social aspect of ICT. Take the phone system for instance, its among the oldest ICT technology we have, but we still have no idea why people call one another. I’ll give you an example: a husband calling his wife on the way home from work to ask if the is no milk in the fridge. If this were an important issue he could have checked it in the morning or once he gets home. Thus saving on this ‘unnecessary call’. The technology people would solve this right away by saying that there should be a link between the fridge and the husband’s cellphone and will also design a smart fridge. However, you can all understand that this wasn’t the true reason of this call.” This was one of many criticisms on the fact that the industry isn’t doing long term radical research that won’t bear fruit in the first quarter, specifically in the social aspects of ICT.
I left the panel in the middle this time, although I really wanted to stay, it was fascinating! But the room was freezing and my throat was hurting the past two days. We started this joke here, that we always sit a the front rows and then slowly migrate backwards to a more tropical climate. Actually when I migrated all the way out I came across a surreal act – the Thai crew were dressed in Mexican outfits and there were plastic cacti everywhere. Apparently the coffee break food’s theme was Mexico. It seems I migrated too far south.
After the break the youth members split, and a class about using the OLPC was opened. Anthony Wong, who is the director of OLPC Asia and China (Keller’s parallel in Asia. BTW I successfully seem to catch him for talks every day so far). I saw the lecture would be only the basics so I volunteered beforehand to be an assistant in the session. So as usual, I was running around helping people with problems in the session. I better stress to the readers that if they think they know how the OLPC would work because its Linux based, they are mistaken. The laptop’s system has all the Linux tools, but on top of it there is an interface there is a completely different called sugar. There is no folder structure. Only after 3 days, I figured out how to save on a usb stick in the GUI. During the session Wong showed different children applications. It troubled me since the youth forum members kept asking me about other things – like saving files and editing text and so on. At the end of the session I told him that and that most of them didn’t feel they can’t do anything with the computer. He however replied that the computer is not for them, it is there so they can show it to their governments with the kids applications. I still disagreed, and that they still need to feel its a fully capable computer in order to convince anyone to invest in it. I also had a conversation with the head of W3C Israel over skype at the end of the day, who agreed with Wong. He said that it needs to get ministers to say “wow”, I do see that he has a point, but I think it won’t work if the youth members won’t know its a computer, and not just a toy.
After the Session Walda Roseman (aka “the mother of the youth forum”) announced that we shall now vote for the two youth forum members that would represent the youth forum’s closing declaration, in front of the ITU tomorrow. Our task was to elect a male and female representative for this task. I personally did not plan on running. But as I entered the room I started to see that there is a large group that wants me to participate. According to the election laws one can nominate anyone including him or herself. So a few minutes later I found myself in a row with the rest of the opponents explaining why I could contribute and represent the forum. However at the end I was not elected. Actually I think it was a good thing, I had so many other things to do that I couldn’t find time to sleep anyway. In a way I maybe should not have run in the end and had support the ones who were elected (they were the ones I voted for). Sill I was told by the voters I came second.
After the elections we were taken to a big mall. I bought a few electronic things and was actually given a gift from one of the chaperones, Jazz music by the kind of Thailand, with notes! We ate and went back to the hotel.
Here are two pictures for today: