Monday, January 28, 2008

Condescendingly Racist Laptops For Kids

Reading this interesting NY Times blog post on the One Laptop Per Child project, I caught this:

Like all artifacts designed and disseminated by missionaries, Negroponte’s XO laptop reveals a great deal about his worldview and how he and his colleagues perceive the benighted people they seek to enlighten.

Neither I nor the author of the above line, Virginia Heffernan, believe that M.I.T. rock star Nicholas Negroponte is a condescending bigot. But what if one were behind this project?

Sticks and stones may break your bones—or be the foundation of your home, if you live in a third-world nation. We can’t in good faith blame the hordes of godless heathens in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East for not understanding basic abstract concepts. That’s why we designed the ButtonBox.

Since children in developing nations are only familiar with bright colors, tree branches and pebbles (not even tree branches if we are talking about those li’l desert dwelling critters) we added a wooden stick with each laptop. Since the ruddy faced mongoloids may be intimidated by a case that flashes and makes noises, the stick is used as an extension of the finger, to make sure the laptop is safe.

Once the kids are comfortable enough to use the laptop, we make sure children are greeted with a luminous wallpaper. Though the children are free to choose any wallpaper they would like, the default image is that of Jesus Christ trampling the soft skulls of “bad cowboys” like Heath Ledger.

An instructional video then pops up, teaching children how to read blogs chronicling the throbbing hustle and bustle of advanced civilizations (New York, Los Angeles). This way, children can be introduced to more appropriate, pop-inflected African music like Vampire Weekend.

Don’t drop the plates out your mouths parents—sites such as MySpace and Facebook are blocked, as are any porn sites. Who needs porn when everyone in Africa is naked anyway?

And for you shrewd bargaining Arabs, we included a free goat. A robot goat that acts as a GPS locator for your little rug (riding) rats. That way, you can stone your daughter to death if she sneaks off to a jazz club.

So please enjoy this ButtonBox; it’s better than food!


Ed Murray said...


I see you're digging that blink> tag!

modiggin' it, that is.


In Australia, they would've gotten that.

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