[Edu-sig] Some thoughts on the word "Laptop"

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Fri May 11 16:40:11 CEST 2007

I'll jump in to again tout CP4E as an "alive and thriving" acronym
(or abbreviation) that escapes some of the OLPC spin, and that's
a good thing.  Diversity matters.

Firstly, we escape "for children" and instead have "for everyone"
or "for everybody" which sounds more egalitarian and less into
inter-generational warfare, excluding adults, which in developing
areas are as unlikely to have laptops as the kids.

Secondly, we focus on an activity rather than a shape and/or size
of computer, by emphasizing "programming" -- an activity which all
these boxes require and support.

Ever since OSCON 2005 I think it was, with the Gibson Guitar bus
outside, Gibson a sponsor, I've been thinking of portable computers
as musical instruments we carry around, like guitars in a lot of
ways.  Geek = Musician has a kind of pleasing set of connotations.
The idea being:  if you get into it more than superficially, you get
into programming somehow, no ifs ands or buts about it.

Now I'm not suggesting we help those anxious to paint laptops
in a bad light, because they feel threatened by OLPC.  I support
OLPC and continue to push it, welcome it.  But CP4E is different,
both in approach and philosophy, is home grown within Python
Nation (by Guido), has ongoing manifestations.  So I'm not planning
to drop CP4E *in place of* OLPC just as surely.  They're not the

Frankly, I think OLPC will get by without a lot of help from the
Python community, in terms of just getting the hardware spread
around.  It's what goes on with those laptops once "in situ" that
Python comes in.  What will the students actually *do* with these
machines?  Will they learn to program them?  Or will they be
left essentially without direction, left to tackle a tired pre-
computer curriculum that was never crafted with DynaBooks in
mind (ala the Empire State model, a sorry affair I'm glad is
unreflective of my own personal experience).

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