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Give one get one, squared

The Give One, Get One program (aka G1G1) is now open at I needed two, so I gave two. Here begins my One Laptop Per Child experience as a parent.

This morning I bought two pairs of laptops via the Give One Get One program of the One Laptop Per Child initiative. The moment my payment was received I saw this friendly acknowledgment:


Thank you for participating in Give One Get One. Your donation will bring education and enlightenment to children of the developing world, and, in recognition of your gift, you will be receiving an XO laptop for the child in your life as well. If you have any questions or problems, please contact One Laptop Per Child at Should your employer wish to match your donation, we are a 501(c)(3) organization and our EIN# is 20-5471780. Thanks again, and welcome to the One Laptop Per Child community!

Why two?

Over the past year or so I have given demonstrations of the amazing XO laptop to CEOs, government ministers, members of the media, technology analysts, teachers, and, of course, to my own daughter. Those with computer experience are amazed at how different it is than your run-of-the-mill laptop: it has a sharp screen you can read in daylight (even sunlight), it's lightweight, it runs cool (the version I had ran an extravagant 10W while the power management team was working to get it down to the expected 2W-3W), and, of course, it's GREEN (literally). The keyboard is also quite different—it's child-sized, which makes it difficult for my adult-sized fingers to type. But the biggest difference is that it is activity oriented rather than application oriented.

The Sugar interface is a bit mystifying to the everyday computer user, and I learned that the mystery is due in large part to being the only XO in the room. Imagine what planet Earth would be like if you were the only human. It would be impossible to imagine the functions of all that we have. However, fill it with people, and suddenly even the most mysterious artifacts become obvious as you observe others interacting with them. In the same way, demos that seemed a bit like high-tech spelunking suddenly came alive when other XO laptops were present in the environment.

So I'm buying two XOs. One for my daughter and one for whoever wants to be her XO buddy—her neighbor friends, my wife Amy, her teachers, or me. I suspect that within a week, she'll be teaching me about the Sugar interface. Why? Because with no instructions, she has mapped out dozens of features of her current electronic crave: The Littlest Petshop. Using money she's earned from her piano practice she now up to her fourth Littlest Petshop toy. She discovered on her own how to network them, how to get them to punch each other's dance cards, etc. She's had much more fun with these toys once she got more than one. And so I'm going to let her explore the XO socially.

I'll report back what she teaches me.