Blogging Since Infancy: Engaging the community to build new media applications for OLPC laptops

Pablo Flores of the Plan Ceibal (OLPC in Uruguay) Project is part of a team working on the technological and educative aspects of One Laptop per Child (OLPC) XO laptops which are being distributed to the hundreds of thousands of Uruguayan child students. These laptops currently miss many applications to help students learn and participate in the classroom. So the Ceibal project arranged a programming “jam” to get local programmers involved in developing innovative applications for the OLPC laptops including new media tools like blogging.

Pablo reports [es] that the jam was organized successfully with a large attendance.

In a brief summary of the event Pablo tells that approx. 60 people attended the introductory lecture. And 20 participants worked during the weekend on:

  • Developing games
  • Creating applications for the XO laptop
  • Install and work with emulators
  • Knowledge of the Python programming language for XO
  • Developing system for blogging
  • More details can be found in the Ceibal jam wiki. You can watch pictures of the jam here.

    Pablo notes (machine translation from Spanish):

    “Finally, feeling the birth of a new community, focusing on the common goal of appropriate technology for OLPC laptops…..In Uruguay the development of the applications for XO is in initial stages, so the community can be a catalyst in this process. The experience in Ceibal Jam seems to be very useful because it lets the community to be involved in this gigantic project.”

    Nicholas Castagneto, a participant programmer describes [es] his experience in the first Ceibal Jam:

    “One of the issues that aroused interest in several of the participants was the creation of games. These may provide a way to bring computers to children, and through fun activities convey knowledge to help them train and educate.

    Many of us who are not children, Ceibal Jam gave us the opportunity to get our hands a XO and play with it.

    The first experience was very pleasant. A small prototype was developed in PyGame. We copied the prototype to a PenDrive, plug in one of the USB ports of XO, we opened a line of command in the path of PenDrive, run “python” and the game was running!

    The XO has a high resolution (1200×900), implying that you should be careful in how it handled the graphics, since computers have a limited storage space (less than 1GB) and applications should ideally be downloaded from the Internet.”

    [machine translation]

    In the project’s English blog David Sasaki translates one of Pablo’s posts titled “Laptops in the most disadvantaged areas of Uruguay” which describes what the next expansion phase of the Plan Ceibal will achieve:

    “For the first time, the poorest sectors will have a tool in their hands to connect to the information society. The children will bring the computers to their homes, the family will access the internet, and a new segment of the population will be online.

    For the first time, those with little voice will have a medium of communication with which to describe their experiences, dreams, and needs from their own perspective, unlike the traditional means of researchers from other sectors of society speaking for them. Blogs, videos and e-mails are just some examples of ways in which this sector of society will be able to express themselves more strongly than ever before in order to show their culture, their way of thinking, their reality.”

    Pablo Flores posts a video which takes a glimpse into the next version (available from 2010) of the OLPC laptop and asks “will the XO-2 do well”?

    You can follow the Ceibal project using these resources:

  • Official Site of Plan Ceibal
  • Official wiki
  • Unofficial Project blog – Ceibal
  • Unofficial Project blog – Ceibal, in English
  • Videos in YouTube
  • Photos uploaded by Pablo Flores
  • A Presentation by Pablo Flores
  • More resources can be found here.


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